Inpatient Psychiatry Service | Going Home

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Going home from the hospital is usually a relief, but it can also be stressful and raise other concerns. Some caregivers worry about their ability to keep their child safe at home. Others may be concerned about their child's return to school and the response they may get from peers. Also, there is fear of a relapse. Everyone on the treatment team wants your child to get home as soon as possible but it is important to be prepared.

Talk with your child

Understand how your child feels about going home and help them address any worries they may have. Your child's treatment team will help you talk about what happened before coming to the hospital and work with you to develop a plan to deal with potential problems. It is important for your child to have a clear picture of who to talk to if they are under stress or having trouble coping.

Returning to school

Going back to school can be very stressful. Many children worry about what to say to their peers about their absence from school. Caregivers can help by talking with their child and making a plan about what to say, and our staff can help you find the right words.

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Some families are more comfortable explaining their child's absence by citing a medical reason. Others may feel comfortable talking about their experience and taking the opportunity to teach people that psychiatric illness, particularly depression, can affect anyone. It is important for you to decide which approach is most comfortable for you and your child.

We can help you and your child find the right words to help ease the transition. Schools are usually helpful in working with a child and family to make the transition from the hospital to school. It may make sense for your child to try partial days for a short time or to have a decreased workload until they are ready to take on their usual routine. The plan for returning to school should be part of your child's discharge plan so that you both know what to expect during those first weeks at home.

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Medications

If your child has been prescribed medications while on the IPS unit, know the name, dosage and administration time(s) of the medications. In addition, you should understand the expected effects and potential side effects of each medication. Our nursing staff can help answer questions about how to give the medication, how to adjust the times to fit your child's schedule and safety issues around storage and administration.

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Before leaving the hospital, medication dosages and times will be written on your child's discharge form and reviewed with you by one of our nurses. It is important to continue all medications as prescribed after your child returns home. If you have concerns about any medication dosages or side effects, please contact your outpatient psychiatrist before making any medication changes.

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Safety planning

Some caregivers experience anxiety when they are preparing to take their child home from the hospital. You may be worried about your child's safety or fear a relapse. It is important to talk about these concerns before leaving the hospital and to anticipate handling problems should they arise.

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Your child's clinician and nursing team will work with you and your child to develop a plan to use at home should your child's symptoms worsen. You and the clinical staff will review with your child who they can talk with if they feel distressed and whom you will contact if you become concerned about your child's safety.

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Aftercare appointments

Before leaving the hospital, you will receive a discharge form that lists aftercare appointments for your child. It is very important that your child keeps these appointments to ensure that the outpatient treatment team is available to support you and your child.

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Your child will most likely need to see an individual therapist and it is possible that there will be a recommendation for ongoing family therapy.

If your child has started taking medication, they will also need an appointment for a psychiatrist to monitor the effects of the medication, adjust dosages and write new prescriptions. If your child has eating issues, they may also need regular appointments with a dietitian and pediatrician.

While these appointments can be time consuming and inconvenient, outpatient support can have a tremendous impact on your child's ability to function outside of the hospital.

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Return to a normal routine

It will take a while for life to return to normal. Before coming to the hospital, your child may have had a full schedule including school, activities and social events. It may be overwhelming for your child to resume a full schedule right away. If your child has eating issues, they may need to restrict their activity for some time.

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Even a large family gathering that your child may have previously enjoyed may now feel difficult or stressful. Talk with your child to decide what they can handle. It may make sense to delay some planned events until your child feels better able to cope.

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Remember to support yourself

Sometimes, it can be very difficult for caregivers to bring their child home. Caregivers worry about their child's safety, if they are able to provide enough supervision or if they can manage conflicts without putting additional stress on their child. You will still need to keep in touch with friends and family who understand and can offer support.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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