Leaving the hospital is an important milestone for stem cell transplant patients, because it marks the first return home after what can often be an extended recovery. But this homecoming also requires a bit of advance preparation. That’s because stem cell transplants destroy and rebuild the immune system, leaving patients immunocompromised and thus more vulnerable to infection from common germs and fungus.
If you are in line for a stem cell transplant, a few tips can help make sure your home will be ready for a safe return after the procedure:
- Clean your home before your stem cell transplant. This advance work is important, because your immune system will not be able to protect you completely after your transplant. You’ll probably want to ask a friend or loved one to help you, but you don’t need to hire a specialized cleaning company.
- Focus on areas that you will spend most of your time in after your transplant. For example, you don’t need to worry about cleaning your attic or basement if you don’t spend time in those areas.
- Get rid of dust, mold, mildew, and other tiny particles. Be sure to vacuum and dust all rooms, and shampoo all rugs. If you haven’t done so in the past year, clean all of your drapes and blinds. Ask your care team whether it’s okay to keep any house plants that you might have in your home.
- Be thorough. This means dusting surface areas well and cleaning under all appliances, such as your refrigerator and stove. The bathroom and kitchen should get special attention, focusing on the removal of any mold or mildew.
After you return home, the house must be cleaned weekly for at least the first few weeks after your return. This weekly cleaning should include vacuuming and dusting, and a thorough cleaning of the bathrooms and kitchen.
Do not clean while you are recuperating from your transplant, because this can expose you to germs or fungus that may make you sick. Ask for help from loved ones who can help with the cleaning tasks or find others who are available to support you. You should wait at least a half hour before entering a room that has just been cleaned, because cleaning can stir up dust and other small particles.
While your immune system is recovering, you will also need to limit the number of visitors to your home. Your care team may recommend that recommend avoiding any visitors beyond family members who currently live in the home. When you are able to have visitors, you may want to have them review a few tips to remember when visiting cancer patients.