Managing at home

Leaving the security of the hospital can sometimes feel scary. In hospital, there is always somebody around if you feel ill or worried. When you get home, suddenly you can feel like you are on your own. You may worry that something could go wrong and no one will be there to help.

For example, you may go home with a central line, portacath or PICC line still in place. Your nurse will show you how to look after this, and you can always phone and check with hospital staff about any worries, day or night.

People with cancer can be particularly at risk from infection. The coughs, colds and bugs that other people recover from quite easily can sometimes be very serious for you.

Your healthcare team will tell you when and how you need to take particular care of yourself. They will also tell you who to contact if you are worried.

Getting help when you are at home

  • It is important that you know who to contact with any questions or concerns when you are at home. Your healthcare team should discuss this with you before you leave hospital. But it is also a good idea to go through it with the people close to you so they know what to do if there is a problem or emergency. Who you should contact in an emergency will vary depending on where you live and your situation. You will be told who to contact before you leave hospital.
  • Write down any important phone numbers and contacts. Make sure everyone knows where to find them. Save important numbers in your mobile.
  • You, or someone close to you, can ring the hospital ward for advice at any time, day or night. Some hospitals have patient helplines you can ring. Never be scared of worrying them unnecessarily as they are there to help you.
  • Your GP and community team (if there is a local team available for your age group) should have been told that you are going home. They will be jointly responsible for your care when you are out of hospital.
  • If problems happen and you were treated a long way from home, you may be able to see a consultant at a local hospital. If necessary, they can arrange an emergency admission or get you back to the hospital where you were treated.
  • It is useful to have information about other support groups and advisers, such as local Macmillan nurses, specialist social workers or helplines. Your specialist nurse, key worker or community nurse will have details of local groups. Many areas now have acute oncology services, which can help people with cancer in an emergency. You will be given their contact details.