TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR HEALTHCARE
Hospital discharge is a time during which patients and families are at their most vulnerable. There is so much information they need to know, just when they may be least able to absorb, remember and act on it. It is vital for members of the healthcare team to help patients leave the hospital with confidence, giving them the tools and information they need to make a smooth transition to their next destination. This toolkit, Taking Charge of your Healthcare: Your Path to Being an Empowered Patient, provides you with these tools. Hospital discharge is not an event; it is a process. It is a process that takes time and should be started upon admission, if not sooner. Healthcare providers should give the tools in Taking Charge of your Healthcare: Your Path to Being an Empowered Patient to patients and families as soon as possible. Plan time to discuss their contents and answer any questions, recognizing you may need more than one conversation to ensure understanding and readiness for discharge.
At the heart of safe discharge is clear communication and education for patients and families. Patients and families need to know:
- The importance of prompt follow-up care
- What to expect and what to do when they leave the hospital
- How to plan for their immediate and longer-term needs
Patients also need to be empowered to talk to their healthcare providers when they feel intimidated, and they need practical strategies for getting the most out of conversations with members of the healthcare team.
Healthcare providers know that patients’ and families’ feelings of fear, anxiety, insecurity and uncertainty, combined with their compromised medical conditions, make communication and understanding especially difficult precisely when their understanding is so essential. Taking Charge of your Healthcare: Your Path to Being an Empowered Patient is designed to help providers help patients during this critical time.
Patients know they don’t feel well. They or their family members who accompany them on their care journey may recognize that they could use some help in working with the healthcare team to contribute to the safety and effectiveness of the process. This toolkit will help both groups achieve the safety they desire.
Elements of the toolkit are:
- Staying Safe When You Leave the Hospital, a journal-like bi-fold booklet that guides patients and family members to collect their thoughts and ask the right questions. By using this tool, they will have what they need to know and do before leaving the hospital in an easy to use and update format. A cover page allows for the patient to record their thoughts and keep them private.
- Talking to Your Doctor or Nurse, a handy list that gives patients and their advocates advice and tips for making the most of their conversations with their doctor or nurse, wherever such conversations occur.
- The Emotional Side of Healthcare: Six Tips for Talking to Your Doctor, a trifold brochure presenting six strategies for coping with conversations that often feel stressful for patients and families. This can also serve as a reminder or educational tool for healthcare team members to raise their sensitivity to the emotional realities patients bring with them as they talk to their doctor or nurse.
- The Emotional Side of Healthcare: Six Tips for Talking to Your Doctor, a condensed poster version of the brochure that lists the six tips for easy reference. A version highlighting the healthcare team is also included. Lastly this poster is being made available in bright colors (doctor and team versions) for posting in open patient areas and staff lounges.
- Communicating with Patients and Families for Smooth, Safe Transitions, this short document explains how patients and families often feel during this stressful time, and how healthcare providers can open lines of communication. It can be used by hospital training personnel to lay a foundation for understanding if the toolkit is rolled out organization wide.
- Glossary of Terms, listing of words our patient advisors suggested would be helpful for consumers to help them understand terms that may arise during the transition out of the hospital.
In addition, the toolkit is accompanied by a set of additional links that will expand on the materials developed for this toolkit. Lastly, the team that came together to create the tools are acknowledged and links to their organizations may direct you to other items of interest both specific to care transitions and other areas of interest.
Taken together, the pieces included in Taking Charge of your Healthcare: Your Path to Being an Empowered Patient will help patients and their families plan and work together with their healthcare team to ensure a safe hospital transition to follow-up care.
For more information, tools and resources visit the National Transitions of Care Coalition at www.ntocc.org.