Nurses Give Their Top Tips For Families Caring For Patients At Home

Patient Home Care Tips

Yay, hooray! Your loved one is coming home from the hospital!

As excited as you may be, you might also feel a bit overwhelmed. With insurance companies trying to cut costs and hospitals dealing with overpopulation issues, patients are going home sooner and sooner after their procedures, leaving family members and friends to take care of them while they are healing.

Here are some great tips from top nurses around the country on how to care for your loved one after their hospital visit.

#1 Tip:  Don’t Freak Out

Staying calm through your loved one’s recovery is important. Most recoveries are uneventful, so put your extra dose of worry aside and focus on providing the best care possible.

Before leaving the hospital:

Assess the Needs of the Patient

Often times when people are in recovery, they need a space specific to their needs. Can the patient walk up stairs, or will they need a downstairs room? Are they coming home with recovery “tools” like a walker, cane, or crutches, and is your space set up in such a way that they can maneuver with their new tools? Ask the discharge nurse what you might need for your specific situation.

Be Honest

You will be asked about your home setup and who will be there to care for the patient. If you think you’ll need help, say so. Often times the hospital or clinic can help set you up with home care providers.

Find a Friend

Having emotional and physical support for yourself during this time is important. Not only will you want someone to go to when you’re tired, but having a second person to help with care and discharge can alleviate stress and anxiety. Find a person willing to take notes and listen to orders at the discharge with you. This second set of eyes and ears will ensure you don’t miss any important information.

Ask Questions

Discharge papers can be long and not everything on there is the most important thing. Make sure to ask the doctor which things you need to focus on immediately. Also remember to ask who specifically you can call if you have questions.

At Home:

Get the Patient Moving

Although your loved one is recovering, they should still have activity in their day. Make sure they get out of bed and walk around, eat, drink, and do things they would normally do, within reason. The best practice for mobilizing patients is to have them sit up in bed for at least 60 seconds, then stand next to the bed for at least 30 seconds while holding onto something before taking their first step.

Be Creative

Sometimes patients in recovery at home will be more comfortable in spaces that wouldn’t be comfortable normally. Feel free to try out using a recliner as a bed if they’re not sleeping well, for example.

Keep Pain Around a 3 or a 4

Nurses know pain comes with recovery, and thinking recovery will be pain free is unrealistic. Keeping pain levels to about a 3 or a 4 is low enough to not stall recovery, but realistic enough to be manageable.

Reach Out for Help

If your loved one’s symptoms change or worsen, if there is a spike in fever, or if there is something you just don’t know about, please reach out to the patient’s doctor or nurse for help.

You’re not annoying them, it’s their job, and they want to see your loved one recover as quickly as possible, without any complications, as much as you do.

Be Kind, Caring, and Compassionate

More than anything, the road to recovery is best served with lots of water, rest, and moving around. Just like you would care for someone who has the flu, these are also the best tools for someone coming home from the hospital. Of course, there might be other things you have to monitor and be aware of, but overall kindness, compassion, and care are going to be the most successful tools of recovery at your disposal.

Kari Cowell
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