Considering Hospital Care?
Most people with mental illnesses receive mental healthcare, at a doctor’s office, community mental health center, support group or other setting. Receiving care near where you work or live enables you to pursue a full productive life. There are times, however, when hospital care may be necessary for people in crisis. Of the 52 million people in the USA in 1994 who had a mental health disorder, only 0.5 percent of them were hospitalized in a 24hour or residential care setting (CMHS, 2000) Deciding whether hospitalization or in-patient care is appropriate can be difficult and should be considered with the consultation of a mental health professional. If in-patient care becomes necessary, this pamphlet will help you ensure the best care possible. Questions to ask:
Consider before admission:
- Have you or your loved one in need been professionally evaluated? By whom? Do you understand the diagnosis?
- If you or your family member have not been evaluated, why are you seeking admission?
- a) The person’s safety, or the safety of others?
- b) A doctor’s recommendation?
- c) Which of the symptoms your family member is exhibiting are causing concern?
- Do you or your family member have an advance directive in place? What does it say about in-patient care?
Ask the hospital/treatment center at check-in
- Does your facility treat patients for this specific diagnosis only?
- If the patient has other health or emotional problems will he/she receive treatment for these problems also?
- Does your facility require tests when admitted? If so, what are they?
- Who will perform these tests?
- Who will evaluate the patient when he/she is admitted?
- What are the person’s qualifications/title?
- Will the individual be seen by this professional on a regular basis?
- When will the initial evaluation take place?
- Is there a consumer advocate we can contact in case of complaints or grievances?
Financial and Insurance Issues:
- Does the hospital accept our insurance?
- If not, what are the alternatives?
- If it does, what is covered?
- Can coverage be reviewed with a member of the staff?
- Are there separate charges for physicians, therapists or caretakers? What are these charges?
- How are fees assessed?
- When will billing occur?
- If insurance covers only part of the cost, what other arrangements can be made for payments?
- Is other assistance available?
- Will the facility accept partial payments of payments on a schedule?
During the patient’s stay:
- When can I (or another family member) talk to the therapist or doctor?
- Will we be able to discuss treatment with the doctor or therapist? When? How often?
- When can family members visit? How long?
- Will the patient have a daily schedule of activities or treatments? If so, what activities will the patient be involved in?
- Is therapy (group or individual) available and is it part of the treatment plan?
- What clothes should the patient bring?
- How long will the patient be at the facility?
- Who makes this decision?
- Will the family be advised of changes in treatment?
- Who will make the evaluation for discharging the patient?
- When will this happen?
Ask the therapist:
- What can the individual and family expect during the treatment process?
- What reactions/behaviors of the patient are possible?
- How should the family respond?
- How can the individual and family prepare for unexpected behavior and possible setbacks?
Leaving the hospital:
- Will someone advise our loved one and family about adjustment concerns such as the need for further counseling or a medication schedule?
- What can we expect when our family member is discharged?
- Will he/she be on medications? Which ones?
- How will these medications help?
- Are they habit-forming?
- What are the side effects?
- What is the dosage?
- Will he/she have to be on these medications forever or is there a time or point when they can be discontinued?
- What alternatives are there?
- What community supports are there?
- What resources are available for reintegration into their lives and the community?