Remember the main objective is to get out of hospital as soon as possible! You may be able to shorten your stay by discussing your needs with the healthcare professionals and taking their advice about what you are going to be capable of while you get better. Plan ahead who can help you at home, and also ask about what community care is available,.
BEING AS PREPARED AND ORGANIZED AS YOU CAN BE FOR GOING TO HOSPITAL:
- Check the procedure dates, and make a request if you want them changed. If the hospital changes the dates and puts them back, make a fuss.
- Don’t take “No” for an answer, even from the healthcare professionals, if you believe “Yes” and want that option, always ask for an explanation why it is “No”!
- Set up an Intelligence Unit! Find out when the doctors do their rounds and get your advocate (and other family and friends) to be there. Find out who else is on the medical team and when they make their rounds, and ask to see them too (eg physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nutritionists, etc). Ask them lots of questions.
- Make friends with everyone who works in the hospital. Learn the first names of all the nurses.
- Take hand hygiene very seriously. Tell all your visitors to wash theirs!
- Make your bed environment friendly and supportive. Bring in special photographs and wear familiar clothes.
- Get your advocate, family and friends to do some of the nursing. Ask the nurses to show them how to do things (eg getting water, ice, or skin creams from the nursing station / changing bed linen or getting extra pillows /doing some bathroom chores). This can help to get things done when you want and need them to be.
- Be extra vigilant when hospital shifts change as things to be done and information to be passed on can get forgotten during handovers. Find out when these are, and if necessary remind the new shift of your needs.
SETTING UP A COMMUNICATION NETWORK FOR STAYING IN TOUCH:
- Get in touch with people you want to be close to. For the first contact to tell them about your being ill, maybe send an email, text or letter rather than telephone.
- Make a list of all the people you know who could help you set up and run a network for you, and dont be afraid to ask them for their help.
- Create email groups for your illness information updates.
- Plan the communication system (NB don’t aim to tell everyone everything!). Work out a list of who to circulate everything to, and who just to send occasional summaries.
- Consider wider broadcasting possibilities if you want to (blogging, social media etc).
IDENTIFYING YOUR PRACTICAL NEEDS AND DO WHAT YOU CAN TO MEET THEM:
- What practical aspects of your home life need looking after while you are ill.
- What travel arrangements to and from appointments or the hospital are available, and who can you ask for help with lifts.
- What are the contact details for local taxi services.
- What and where are the best local take-away food service for yourself and for visitors.
RESOURCING YOUR LONG-TERM CARE:
- If your serious illness is going to take a long time to recuperate from, what are the specific areas of care for this condition that you are going to need, and who will provide it.
- What are all the other general areas and topics of long-term care which you need to prepare for in advance. Ask the healthcare professionals for help with thinking about this so that you cover everything.
- What about the home front? How much can you family and friends be expected to care for you long-tem, and what are they realistically capable of doing? Is burn-out among your carers an issue? Remember a serious illness is very stressful and takes a big toll on carers too.