Coming Out Of Hospital
When a loved one you care for goes into hospital it is a time of anxiety but coming out of hospital can also be a time of mixed feelings. Although you will be pleased that your loved one is well enough to return home, both you and they may have some worries about how they will cope. These worries should be addressed before they are discharged from hospital.
What is Hospital Discharge?The process of leaving hospital is called hospital discharge. The decision that your loved one is to be discharged should not come as a surprise - planning for the time when they leave hospital should begin almost as soon as they are admitted. Every hospital has a discharge procedure that is intended to make sure that every patient who leaves hospital has the support and help they need. One member of staff, usually a nurse, will be responsible for co-ordinating the arrangements and making sure everything is in place before discharge. Arrangements can vary depending on needs and on whether a person is returning home from hospital, or going into a care home.
Hospital Discharge for People Going HomeSome people may just need some basic help - perhaps advice on medication and a letter to their GP. Or they may need help with practical things like arranging transport and preparing their home for their return. Other people need a lot of support and assistance to help them manage at home.
Help for People who need a lot of Support
If a lot of help is required, the local council needs to be asked to make a care assessment. This is so that they can decide what sort of services will be required. Local council social services are responsible for arranging assistance which helps older and disabled people to stay in their own homes. The services that the local council might provide include:
- Home help - assistance with general household tasks
- Home care - help with personal care, such as washing and dressing
- Meals on wheels
- Day care - perhaps a place at a local day centre
- Respite care - residential care, or care provided in a person’s own home, to give you, the carer, a break
- Aids and adaptations - to make living at home easier to manage.
Not everyone needs this sort of detailed assessment of their needs. Some people go home from hospital quite able to carry on with some extra help from family, friends or neighbours until things settle down. It is important to talk to whoever is in charge of your loved one’s discharge if you or they are not happy with any of the arrangements that are being made. Be sure to explain exactly what your concerns are, as they may be easily solved. But if you feel that your loved one is not going to manage, do say so. It might be better for them to be fully assessed by the social services department.
Going HomeWhatever arrangements are in place, there are still practicalities to consider. You should be told the date and time of your loved one’s discharge in advance, so that you have enough time to prepare for their return home. The following check-list will give you an idea of the sort of things you need to think about.
- Door keys
- Heating and Food
- Checking that any community care services are ready to start
- Medication and medical follow-up appointments
Although your loved one’s medical condition has improved, if they are going to need a lot of care and support, it may be appropriate for them to move into a care home. This can be temporary until they are fitter or if their needs are long term, it may be permanent. If their care needs are deemed to be health related, the total cost of the care home may be borne by the NHS. In most cases though, a person’s income is assessed to see what contribution they can afford to make to the costs with social services making up the difference.
Remember that the hospital has a responsibility to check that everything is in order before your loved one goes home, and to ensure arrangements are made for them if you or they have not been able to make them yourselves.