It can be very difficult to get your relative discharged from hospital, or you may discover they are about to be discharged and you feel totally unprepared for what needs to happen next.
The hospital should tell you who is arranging your relative’s discharge and, if possible, the date they are likely to leave. A discharge co-ordinator and hospital social worker are likely to be involved if they’ll need support when they leave.
However, if they’re only likely to need help for a week or two with domestic tasks such as shopping and light housework, the person responsible for discharge should look at what they need and suggest local organisations that can help. There is a protocol that professionals have to follow when discharging elderly patients from hospital.
The Discharge Coordinator
If you’re elderly parent has been in hospital for a while, they may be worried about being discharged from hospital. A few reasons for this may be that they have become used to the nurses and someone always being around them, checking in on them, preparing their meals. They may worried about who will care for them when they leave. But there is after-care and support out there to help when discharging elderly patients from hospital. This is where the Discharge Co-ordinator comes in. They are responsible for overseeing all of the arrangements for being discharged from hospital. However, they shouldn’t let your elderly relative leave hospital until the final checks have been made. The list below might help NHS providers in deciding on whether discharging elderly patients from hospital is appropriate:
Should they be Discharged?
- Make sure your elderly relative is medically fit (being discharged is decided by the consultant or someone working on their behalf).
- Your elderly parent has had an assessment to look at the support they will require once being discharged from hospital.
- A care plan should have been drawn up and explained to you.
- You and your elderly parent have been given a written care plan that sets out the support they require and how after-care teams will meet their assessed needs e.g. having a care worker work within their home.
- Make sure the support that has been described and discussed in the care plan has been put in place prior to being discharged from hospital.
- Decide whether the NHS will remain responsible for their care and assess what help they might need when they leave.
- Assess the needs of their carer, if they require one.
- Decide whether they would benefit from intermediate care or ‘re-ablement’- basically rehab, often post stroke.
- Decide who will be paying for their care.
- Look at practical issues on leaving the hospital.
- Tell you when the care plan will be reviewed (within a few weeks).
Arrangements will vary depending on individual needs and on whether they can go home, or whether they may need alternative accommodation as a temporary or permanent option. So make sure that all the above has been checked before leaving the hospital.
When you are ready to be discharged from hospital
When the time comes to discharging elderly patients from hospital, the discharge co-ordinator should have everything sorted. But, don’t forget to check over these things when your elderly relative or friend is ready to be discharged from hospital.
- Find out who to contact if you have any questions after leaving hospital – this will probably be the GP, but could also be the specialist nurse or the ward nurse.
- Ask what you should look out for when you get home, such as signs of infection.
- Make sure that staff have up-to-date contact details.
- Everyone involved in the caring of your elderly parent has a a copy of the care plan (you, your elderly parent and a carer if you have one).
- Transportation has been arranged to get home safely.
- Carers will be available to support immediately if needed.
- The GP has been notified in writing.
- You have all the medication or other supplies.
- You have been trained on how to use any medical equipment your elderly relative will need to use daily.
- Your elderly parent has appropriate clothes to wear for leaving the hospital.
- You have money and keys for their home.
When discharging elderly patients from hospital there are follow on steps that need to be considered and arranged. If the discharge is to a care home they should also be told the date and time, and have a copy of the care plan.
Independent Age has more great advice for hospital stays and discharge. You might also try the Royal Voluntary Service in your local area, as they provide both in-hospital support as well as at home help, in addition to their new “Home from Hospital” initiative. Age UK locally might also be able to help or signpost you to local services. The British Red Cross provides similar services as well as offering a mobility service providing wheelchairs and other aids.
After being discharged from hospital
Your elderly relatives care should be monitored and reviewed as set out in their care plan. The care plan should also include details of who to contact if things don’t work out as planned. If the plan includes support from community care services or from a local authority they should check in to make sure everything is going OK within the first two weeks. The care plan should be reviewed annually.
Has your relative been in hospital recently? What was their experience? Were you able to get the help and information you needed? Please share your experience with others in Age Space Forum.