Before the Transition

The transition from the hospital or rehabilitation care to home can be an exciting step, but it also can be stressful. Remember, you do not have to do it all yourself. Plan and prepare before the injured service member or veteran comes home. This will make the transition easier for everyone.

If possible, try a practice weekend at home with your family member or other people who may be assisting with caregiving. A practice weekend will alert you to how much help may be needed. Talk with your healthcare team about the transition to home and make a plan.

Remember you are providing a very important service to someone you care about.

To take care of the injured service member or veteran at home, you may be managing medications, appointments, and transportation. You’ll also be organizing your caregiving tasks, family members and friends who can help, and your home life.

Asking others for help is not a sign of being incapable or unprepared. It makes good sense to ask for assistance. Asking for help is a good way to find resources that will support you and the service member or veteran throughout the recovery period.

Before the service member or veteran comes home from the hospital, you should:

  • Ask the military or veteran point of contact (POC), case manager(s), and/or military liaison about resources the service member or veteran will qualify for from the federal, state, and local government.
  • With the help of your healthcare team, write a master schedule for you, the service member or veteran, and the entire family.
  • Ask for a written list of all rehabilitation therapy and exercises, including diagrams or pictures, to be done at home.
  • Ask for help. Seek out people who offered to help and ask them to be available.
  • Identify services available in your community you can contact for help. The National Resource Directory may be helpful. Local brain injury resources, Veterans support groups, and state or local chapters of the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) can also be good resources.
  • Prepare your home with any modifications that may be necessary to accommodate disabilities. Talk with the healthcare team about the need for a home safety evaluation.
    • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and some charities have programs for home modifications to accommodate different needs.
  • Consider home projects and chores that can be delayed during this period of transition.
  • Make a list of the medical equipment and assistive devices being used in the hospital or inpatient rehabilitation facility. Talk with the case manager to make sure you will have all of the necessary medical equipment and assistive devices at home. Discuss any documentation needed to obtain the medical equipment and assistive devices.
  • Identify which member of the healthcare team to contact for assistance with particular issues. Their contact information should be kept handy for yourself and others involved with the service member or veteran’s care.
  • Make plans for regularly scheduled breaks from the home environment. This can benefit both you and your family member.

What to Expect:

  • Know that the service member or veteran benefits from structure, consistency, and a schedule.
  • People with TBI may get more confused at times. Their behaviors and cognitive problems may appear worse for a while after changes in their schedule and/or environment. To reduce confusion as much as possible, try to avoid or at least minimize changes to their daily schedule and significant changes to their environment unless there is a transition period "built in" to the anticipated changes.