A patient with a new tracheostomy will face threatening changes upon discharge from hospital support. Nurses, particularly in the critical care unit, frequently and closely support a patient and family through new and often difficult situations during hospitalization. The patient leaving the hospital with a new tracheostomy will face problems with secretion management, increased risk of infections, alterations in body image, and impaired vocalization. To ensure a safe transition from the hospital to home, the patient and family must demonstrate competence in all aspects of tracheostomy care, must be able to recognize signs and symptoms that should be reported to the physician, and must have adequate support at home (such as homecare nurses, properly functioning equipment, and access to necessary supplies). These "musts" form the basis of the discharge care plan. Nurses can help a patient successfully manage these problems through comprehensive discharge planning. Although the critical care nurses who initiate the multidisciplinary discharge planning process may not remain involved in that process throughout the patient's hospitalization, their early efforts can provide an orderly, comprehensive discharge plan optimally suited to ensure that the patient and family acquire the necessary skills, confidence, supplies, and support for the eventual transition home. The information, encouragement, skills demonstrations, and referrals to other resources that critical care nurses provide help the patient adjust to a new tracheostomy.