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If your relative suddenly falls ill, they will probably be taken to the nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department either by car or by the emergency services following a call to 999.

What will happen?

At A&E, a doctor or nurse will assess your relative’s condition and decide what action needs to be taken. Once your relative’s condition has been assessed he or she may be:

  • treated but not admitted to hospital
  • moved to a Clinical Decisions Unit (CDU) for their condition to be monitored, or tests completed, before a decision is made over whether they need to be admitted
  • admitted to a medical or surgical ward for ongoing care.

If your relative is admitted to hospital, How to get the best possible care in hospital gives useful advice and information.

If you find out that your relative is going to be admitted to hospital, you’ll need to sort out a few practicalities. Emergencies don’t give you a lot of time to think, but as soon as you get a breather you’ll need to think about the following things.

Checklist: what to think about when your relative is admitted to hospital

  • Go to your relative’s home: if no one else is living there, make sure that it is safe and secure: that the doors are locked, windows are shut and everything is switched off.
  • Personal belongings: if your relative needs to stay in hospital, they might want some personal belongings from home such as nightwear, slippers, a change of clothes and a wash bag.
  • Medication: if your relative takes any regular medication, you might need to collect it from home for them. Medical staff will ask what medications your relative may be taking. If you’re not sure and your relative cannot tell you, someone might need to go to their home to find out.
  • Let people know: if your relative has visits from a carer or any regular appointments, these will need to be cancelled for a while. Also cancel any regular deliveries such as milk or newspapers.
  • Pets: arrange for any pets to be looked after.

More information

Page last reviewed: December 2015
Next review due: October 2018