It is important to get as much information as possible while your dad is still in hospital, so that he isn’t left struggling to cope when he is given his hospital discharge. The hospital has to make sure that your dad is discharged safely. There are procedures they should follow, but things do get missed, so make sure you know what help should be on offer and ask for it if it isn’t offered.
Your dad shouldn’t receive his hospital discharge until:
- A doctor says he’s well enough to leave
- He’s been given a discharge assessment, which looks into what support and care he’ll need when he leaves hospital
- If the assessment decides he will need ongoing support, he’s been given a care plan, describing how his care needs will be met when he leaves hospital
- The support described in his care plan has been put in place, so he’s safe as soon as he leaves
If the discharge assessment finds that your dad will need support when he leaves, he should receive a detailed care plan. It should explain what care he will receive, who will provide it and how long for, how it will be monitored, and what (if anything) he will have to pay towards it. It should also have the name of the person managing the care plan, contact details for the organisations who will provide the care, and contact details for an emergency or if your dad isn’t getting the care he’s meant to.
What type of help will he receive?
The type of help your dad is offered will depend on his individual needs. He might get rehabilitation services like physiotherapy or speech therapy. He might also qualify for some free short-term care to help him regain his independence. This could include things like personal care and support to start doing things for himself again. You might hear the terms ‘intermediate care’ or ‘reablement’ – these are a range of services provided free of charge for up to six weeks to help patients recover and stay independent in their home.
If your dad will have ongoing care needs, long-term options might be suggested in his care plan. This could include home carers paid for privately, disability equipment, moving home or making adaptations to his current home. He may have to pay for this support – the local council will assess his finances to work out whether he qualifies for any financial assistance.
If your dad has very complex ongoing health and care needs, he might be able to get NHS Continuing Healthcare. This is a package of care fully funded by the NHS. It isn’t means-tested and can cover the full costs of care, including care home fees if necessary. Most people won’t qualify for this, but if you think your dad might, it’s worth looking into – ask for an NHS Continuing Healthcare assessment to be arranged while your dad is still in hospital or shortly after he leaves.
Before you leave, Make sure you check:
When your dad does leave hospital, the day of departure itself might be stressful. If it’s possible, it might give you greater peace of mind to go and collect him yourself. If you or other friends and relatives aren’t able to do this, make sure the hospital staff know that they have to arrange alternative transport and that your dad might need help getting into his house. There should be someone coordinating your dad’s hospital discharge, but to be on the safe side you or he might want to make a list of things to check before he leaves:
- Does he have a copy of his care plan (if applicable)?
- Does he know who to contact about it if he needs to?
- Does he have house keys and any personal possessions he took with him?
- Does he have all medication, including new medication he’s been prescribed? Does he know how and when to take it?
- If he’s been given any disability equipment, has he been shown how to use it properly?
- Does he have transport home?
- Will someone be there when he gets home? If not, does he have everything he needs – for example, food, drink, medication? Will he be able to get around his home on his own?
- If he is being moved to a care home, does the care home know when he will be arriving? Do they have a copy of his care plan?
If you or your dad are unhappy with how his hospital discharge has been managed, you can make a complaint. Where possible, it’s much better for your dad to query decisions while he’s still in hospital – for example, if he doesn’t think he’s well enough to be discharged.
For more information, take a look at the Independent Age factsheet Hospital care in England and advice guide Your health and the NHS, or contact the Independent Age Helpline on 0800 319 6789 to speak to an adviser.