Care at Home

Making the transition from in-patient to being back at home often requires new skills. Before being discharged from the hospital patients receive instructions on things that must do to speed recovery and prevent complications.

The information in this section on nutrition, oral hygiene, and caring for temporary devices serves to reinforce the steps and precautions that must be followed when recovering at home.

If you cannot find the information you need here, or you have questions or concerns, your physician can be reached by calling your clinic. After hours, on holidays or weekends, call 716-845-2300 and ask to speak to the physician on call for your clinic.

Going Home

Your doctor will determine on what day you can go home. Before you leave the hospital, your nurse will review with you the written discharge instructions prepared by your doctor to help you care for yourself at home.

Please don’t hesitate to ask the nurse if you have questions or are unclear about any of the instructions. We want to make sure you are comfortable with your discharge and that you feel ready to take care of yourself at home. Here are some of the topics that may be addressed in your discharge instructions:

  • Home Care - If your doctor and case manager ordered home care or other assistance, your nurse will review the services that will be provided.
  • Immediate Restrictions - Your doctor may have requested that you restrict certain activities such as bathing, driving, or carrying more than 5 pounds – your nurse will go over these restrictions with you.
  • Medications - Your nurse will review your the medications and explain when and how you are to take them. You’ll receive the prescriptions you need.
  • Caring for Your Incision - The nurse will make certain you understand how to clean your incision or change the dressing, and when you can take a shower or a tub bath.
  • Caring for Catheters, Lines, or Tubes - If you are going home with a catheter, central line, drain, or tube you will receive instructions from your nurse on how to care for it. The nurse will ask if you have further questions. Please make sure you are comfortable with the instructions before you go home. These instructions are important but can be overwhelming at first. We have DVD instructions and brochures available as well. Our case managers are available to help you with your home care.
  • Rest and Exercise - Your discharge instructions may specify how and when you are to rest. Perhaps you’ll be told to stay in bed for a few days, or to prop your feet up when you sit. You may be asked to to perform leg and breathing exercises.
  • Diet - The nurse will inform you if you may return to your normal diet at home or if there is a special diet your doctor wants you to follow. If you need further information or instructions for your special diet, ask your nurse to contact the dietitian.
  • Your Next Follow-up Visit - The nurse will work with you to schedule your first follow-up visit, or explain when you are to call the doctor to schedule that appointment yourself.

Help With Your Return Home

These Roswell Park staff will help you with your return home.

Case Managers

Case managers are registered nurses (RN) responsible for managing and coordinating resources and medical support services to ease your transition from hospital to home. Assigned to one of the Roswell Park Cancer Centers, case managers understand the special needs of our patients with specific kinds of cancer. If you require it, your case manager will arrange home care, special equipment, or other home services.

If you feel you will need extra help when you return home, please ask to speak to your case manager. We want you to be comfortable with your discharge and make sure you are ready to care for yourself at home. We will do everything we can to assure a smooth transition.

Medical Social Workers (MSW)

Our staff social workers assist with discharge planning for patients who are to be transferred to rehabilitation, long-term care, hospice and other facilities.

When You Get Home

Once you are home, be certain to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. You may want to keep a list of questions you’ll want to ask your doctor at your next scheduled follow-up visit.

Who Do I Call if I Have Medical Questions?

You will have a business card with the name and number of your Roswell Park doctor and the center where you are receiving your care. Please keep this card handy. Roswell Park centers are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

After 5 p.m., and on weekends and holidays, call 716-845-2300 and the operator will connect you to the physician on call who can assist you.

Call your Roswell Park doctor and/or nurse if . . .

  • You have questions on your condition
  • You have questions on side effects from your cancer treatment
  • You need to make or change an appointment
  • You need a prescription refill

Call your primary care physician if . . .

  • You have medical questions not connected to your cancer treatment
  • You have questions on medications that are not part of your cancer treatment
  • You have general health questions or need routine tests or exams

Call Case Management If . . .

  • You need help with home care issues

Case Management may be reached at 716-845-8022.

Where Do I Go if I Have an Emergency?

If you require medical attention outside of business hours and are directed to go to the emergency room:

  • If you live in the Buffalo area, please go to Buffalo General Hospital Emergency Department. Remember to bring your Roswell Park “green card.” Roswell Park has a collaborative relationship with Buffalo General Hospital. Buffalo General doctors and nurses have access to your Roswell Park medical records and work with us to coordinate your care.
  • If you live outside the Buffalo area, please go directly to your nearest hospital emergency department.

Emergencies include:

  • Temperature above 100.5°F or chills
  • Unusual or severe pain not relieved by medication Incision becomes red, swollen, or painful; feels hot to the touch; or is draining pus or a foul-smelling discharge
  • A dramatic increase in nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea that is unrelieved by medications

If you feel that you are in a life-threatening situation, please call 911 immediately.

Life threatening situations include:

  • Trouble breathing or chest pain
  • Severe pain in your abdomen or chest
  • A change in your level of consciousness, vision, or strength

If at any time you are unsure about what to do or where to go, please call your doctor for instructions.