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Being discharged from hospital might just be a part of the whole story for your relative. Ongoing care and support may now need to be planned, either at home or in a care home.

On this page you can find the following information:

1. Mobility aids and home alterations
2. Who will help your relative before and after discharge?
3. Taking medication

Mobility aids and home alterations

If your relative has mobility issues, and would benefit from home adaptations or equipment, they will also need to be assessed by an occupational therapist (OT). The ward nurse, their key worker or a liaison nurse can arrange for the OT to visit them if this hasn’t happened as part of the needs assessment. The OT will also need to visit your relative’s home to get an idea of the mobility difficulties they might face. You can request to be present at the visit (with your relative's permission). Once an OT has assessed your relative’s needs, they’ll arrange any equipment needed for when your relative goes home.

Benefits and allowances

If your relative’s needs have changed, they may be entitled to benefits or allowances that they weren’t entitled to before. For example, they may now be entitled to an Attendance allowance or Personal independence payment (PIP) (which has replaced the disability living allowance (DLA)).

If you need to find an occupational therapist or physiotherapist yourself, see Accessing occupational therapy for older people and Physiotherapy for older people.

Remember that home adaptations may take longer to organise, so as long as it’s deemed safe for your relative to go home, they may be discharged on the basis that the adaptations will be carried out once they’re home.

Your relative may have to pay for these services, depending on their savings or income, which will be assessed by social services as a part of the needs assessment.

If you are planning to take care of your relative when they return home, you may qualify for Carer’s allowance or other benefits. You are also entitled to an assessment of your own needs, called Carer’s assessment.

Who will help your relative during and after hospital discharge?

There are a number of healthcare and social care professionals who will be involved in supporting and helping your relative after they leave hospital. It should be the case that, if there is more than one professional helping your relative, they all work closely together. Try to get a single contact point for following up on any queries you may have relating to your relative’s care.

District nursing care

District nurses work closely with GPs and can make regular visits to patients and their families at home. They provide help, advice and support with the practical aspects of nursing care, including wound dressings, injections, taking out stitches and helping with managing stomas, catheters or feeding tubes.

District nurses can also arrange certain equipment - such as a commode, bedpan, urine bottle or special mattress - at home if needed. They can assess your relative’s care needs in their home and refer him or her to help from other healthcare professionals if needed. In some areas, district nurses can visit in the evening and at night-time.

If your relative needs district nursing support, their ward nurse or discharge coordinator will contact the local district nursing service before your relative goes home to arrange a home visit. They will also send the district nurse information about the care your relative received while in hospital.

Medical support

On leaving hospital your relative may be given a letter to give to their GP. This will tell the GP about your relative’s hospital treatment and future care needs, including any medicines they’re taking and any changes to these. You should make sure your relative passes this letter to their GP as soon as they can.

If your relative is not given a letter, it is likely that the hospital team has made contact with the GP before discharge. Always check with the hospital team that this is the case.

Taking medication

If your relative needs any medicines when they go home, the hospital doctors will arrange for a one-to-two weeks' supply. You should make sure that your relative clearly understands the medications and when these should be taken, and also that they are aware of any potential side effects. Find out who to contact if your relative needs any advice about the medications they have been given.

If your relative is given medicine that they will need to continue taking, they should ask their GP for a repeat prescription. GP surgeries may require up to 48 hours' notice for repeat prescriptions, so it’s important for repeat prescriptions to be ordered before the medicine runs out. 

Your can read about free prescriptions, prescription prepayment certificates and collecting prescriptions elsewhere on Which? Elderly Care.

More information

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