Inpatient care, what you need to know about your loved one in Inpatient care
Understanding inpatient care
You may hear medical professionals refer a loved one for Inpatient Care for their treatment and know what it means. Inpatient care is when a patient is admitted by a doctor into a hospital or healthcare facility overnight to be monitored by physicians and nurses. Typically these patients have severe conditions or are recovering from life-threatening ordeals, which would take more than one day.
Types of Inpatient care
There are multiple types of inpatient care. To give you an idea, here are some examples:
- Childbirth can take hours or even more than a day. In some cases, the mother will need a cesarean section to deliver the newborn safely, needing an overnight stay.
- Complex surgeries like organ transplants and bypass surgeries require medical professionals to watch over patients during their recovery and observe them over several days.
- Serious health issues such as respiratory problems, seizures, and comas require patients to be constantly watched over by professionals.
What is an inpatient care facility?
There are multiples types of facilities that also provide inpatient care :
- Hospitals are also known as general acute care facilities. They provide care for short-term illnesses, surgery services, and acute conditions.
- Rehabilitation centers offer care for patients who are recovering from a stroke or brain injury. The medical care may be more intensive to aid their recovery.
- Addiction treatment facilities will offer medical care and emotional support to patients who are recovering from substance abuse. They operate around the clock and keep patients safe from any outside triggers.
- Psychiatric hospitals provide inpatient care to patients suffering from brain injuries and mental disorders. They provide treatment in a safe environment to reduce any risks.
- Long-term care facilities are suited for people unable to take care of themselves. These include nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities staffed by medical and personal care staff.
Here are steps to take if your loved one is in inpatient care.
Having a loved one going into inpatient care can be quite an ordeal. There are many things that you will have to consider, prepare and handle. Here are some guidelines and tips to help you and your loved one through the experience.
- Confirm who is the legally authorized health representative of your loved one. This person would be responsible for the decisions made if your loved one is unable to for themselves. Be sure to give the person's name and phone number(s) and their preferred contact method to the healthcare staff.
- Discuss and choose a single primary health contact that will be in touch with the healthcare facility. The best choice is the legally authorized health representative. This way, there is a straight line of communication between the healthcare team and your family.
- Give the care facility copies of your loved one's advance directive/living will. You can always drop it off or email it later if you aren't able to during admission.
- Plan methods of communication for your loved ones, as you will want to keep in contact with them during their stay. The healthcare facility would provide a bedside number. They would also be able to bring their own devices and chargers.
During their stay
- Keep a diary/journal, note down any details that would be of importance. Names and contact numbers of healthcare members, the ward your loved one is staying in. You can note down any questions you might have for the healthcare team and any answers they provide.
- Communicate with nurses. They will be the most prominent advocate for your loved one. Nurses can help you voice any questions to other healthcare team members and let you know how your loved one is doing.
- Communicate any pain/discomfort they might have with the health care team. Any discomfort or pain will interfere with your loved one's rest and impact their overall health and recovery.
- Avoid looking up answers on the internet. As tempting as it may be to figure out possible solutions, it is best to listen to the healthcare team regarding your loved ones' health. As they have a closer understanding of your loved ones' problems and possible solutions.
- Know your loved one's wishes if the moment or time comes. It would be best to know how to honor their wishes and carry them out.
- Arrange multi-disciplinary family meetings to have precise information on your loved ones' condition. Discussions like this will let you communicate with different healthcare team members and clearly understand your loved ones' health.
- Having another person with you can help a lot. Another person can help catch something you have missed during a discussion and support when you have your hands full.
- Don't forget to get some rest for yourself. Having a loved one in care can be draining physically and mentally. You won't be of help to your loved one if you are also tired and unwell. The healthcare facility is the best place to leave them while you get some much-needed rest.
For longer inpatient stays
- Keep your medical documents organized during your loved ones' stay. The health care team will give you many documents about your loved one's condition and progress. So be sure to have a folder or a three-ring binder to go along with your journal, pens, and markers. Keeping organized can allow you to focus on your loved one and prevent any hassles from unorganized paperwork.
- Find out more about the health care facilities room and facilities. Doing your research of the facility, the quality of their room, and services will help give an idea of your loved ones' comfort during their stay.
- Try to create a personalized environment for your loved one. Items such as flowers, pictures, and cards can go a long way in making your loved one's stay feel much more comfortable.
- Some household items may be necessary for you to bring. Even if the healthcare facility provides basic toiletries, your loved one may prefer to have their preferred soap, shampoo, or lotions. Maybe even some slippers if they can move on their own. Be sure to ask the medical care team if it's ok.
- Snacks and food are helpful if you are unable to go anywhere while watching over your loved one. There may also be some nearby restaurants that have take out or deliver. You can also ask the nursing team where to store them and if labels are needed.
- Schedule relief visits from friends or family so you can take a break. Your love one would appreciate having you by their side during their care. Although having time to take care of your own needs is just as important, whether it's to take care of chores or spend time with other family members. Caregiving is something you shouldn't have to handle alone. This time away can help ease some of that stress and anxiety.
Discharge from the healthcare facility
Leaving inpatient care is a significant step in your loved ones' recovery and transition towards day-to-day life. Proper planning for their discharge in advance can help make the process much more manageable.
- Know the time and date of your loved one's discharge. This way, you can prepare transportation and any additional items such as a wheelchair or stroller.
- Prepare any medications and medical equipment they may need at home. Discuss what equipment they can arrange for your loved one and any prescriptions with the healthcare facility.
- Are you or your family members able to look after them? Or will professional help be required? You may need to consider hiring professional caregivers and planners if you and your family cannot fulfill your loved ones' needs.
- Be sure to talk with the health care team regarding follow-up care. Whether your loved one will require a follow-up appointment, be sure also to note down these details.
- Ensure that where your loved one is staying will be suitable for their recovery. Consider your loved ones' mobility and safety, then create a plan for how you will deal with them. Will modifications and adjustments need to be made?
What electronics can my loved ones have during their stay?
During their stay at a healthcare facility, your loved ones can bring a phone, tablet, or laptop with them during their stay. However, be sure to label both the device and charger to make things easier for any healthcare staff.
What is the best way to keep in touch with the health care team? The best way to keep in touch with the health care team would depend on the hospital and team members. Phone calls and emails are ways to contact members of the health care team. However, doctors and specialists may have set times to check emails or take calls in a day. It would be good to check with the front desk or reception of the healthcare facility.
We hope that this guide can help you and your loved ones throughout their time in inpatient care.