Guide helps patients go home with confidence

May 28, 2024

Patient advisor Karen Moffat helped create My Next Steps, a guide which helps patients ask questions as they get ready for discharge.

Patient advisor Karen Moffat helped create My Next Steps, a guide which helps patients ask questions as they get ready for discharge. Photo supplied.

My Next Steps offers advice, tips and resources on leaving hospital safely

Story by Jane Chamberlin

Do I know which medications to take?

Do I have enough bandages?

Will I need home care?

These are just some of the questions that raced through Karen Moffat’s mind as she prepared to leave hospital after spinal surgery.

Looking back on her medical history, she wishes she’d had the My Next Steps: Getting Ready to Leave the Hospital guide. It’s a resource Moffat helped to develop as a patient advisor with the Primary Health Care program. Today, she’s excited to see care providers getting it into patients’ hands across Alberta.

Part of the Home to Hospital to Home Transitions project, My Next Steps is on the Safe Discharge Checklist on Connect Care as part of the discharge-readiness orientation. My Next Steps coaches patients on asking questions of their care team, and offers resources on how to go home safely from hospital.

“It reminds you about things like having a family member at your discharge conversation, and how to call Health Link,” says Moffat. “It encourages you to keep asking questions until you understand, even if it feels uncomfortable. When you get home with that list of new medications, you’ll be glad you did.”

While these tips might seem obvious, Moffat notes that when you’re in the hospital, there may be reasons a patient doesn’t always get the answers they need.

“Patients don’t want to burden doctors and nurses with questions,” she adds. “And when you’re in the hospital, you’re focused on what’s happening now — not on what might happen when you get home.”

Tina Freeborn, a clinical nurse educator at the Red Deer Regional Hospital, has been weaving My Next Steps into her unit’s discharge planning process for about a year.

“It’s like a checklist,” she says. “Patients can feel stressed about going home from the hospital, and this gives them good guidance. Plus, it helps us understand what our patients need.”

Freeborn also sees larger benefits to the healthcare system: “When a patient is given My Next Steps, everything is more likely to be in place when they go home, so they’re not going to come back to the hospital.” Moffat wishes she could be a fly on the wall as My Next Steps is handed out across Alberta.

“I’d love to say to an overwhelmed patient, ‘Pick just one question on My Next Steps and make sure they get that addressed.’ To me, that’s a win.”

Read more about My Next Steps. For more information, email