Who will help during and after hospital discharge?
There are a number of healthcare and social care professionals who are involved in supporting and helping patients after they leave hospital. It should be the case that, if there is more than one professional involved, they all work closely together. Try to get a single contact point for following up on any queries you may have relating to your care, or that of a loved one if you are the carer.
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 for certain equipment – such as a commode, bedpan, urine bottle or special mattress – to be used at home if needed. They can also assess your care needs in your home and refer you to help from other healthcare professionals. In some areas, district nurses can visit in the evening and at night-time.
If you need district nursing support, the ward nurse or discharge coordinator will contact the local district nursing service to arrange a home visit. They will also send the district nurse information about the care received in hospital.
On leaving hospital, a letter may be handed over to pass on to the patient's GP or the information may be sent directly online. Check with the discharge team which method is being used. The letter or online report will tell the GP about the hospital treatment and future care needs, including any prescribed medicines and any changes to these. If there's a letter, make sure it gets to the GP practice as soon possible.
If any medicines are prescribed, the hospital doctors will arrange for a one- to two-weeks’ supply. If you think there is any potential confusion about when the medication(s) should be taken, make sure you clearly understand what needs to be taken when and also about any potential side effects. Ensure either know who to contact if any further advice is needed about the medications.
For medicines that need to be continued, ask your GP for a repeat prescription. GP surgeries may require up to 48 hours’ notice for repeat prescriptions, so it’s important for these to be ordered before the medicine runs out. In addition, if the pharmacy is packing the drugs into dosette boxes, another day or two might be added.
Mobility aids and home adaptations
If the person you're caring for has any mobility issues and would benefit from home adaptations or equipment, they will 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 loved one's home to get an idea of the mobility difficulties you might face. You can request to be present at the visit (with your loved one’s permission). Once an OT has assessed your loved one’s needs, they’ll arrange for any equipment needed to be available when they go home.
Remember that home adaptations may take longer to organise, so as long as it’s deemed safe for your friend or relative to go home, they may be discharged on the basis that the adaptations will be carried out once they’re home.
They may have to pay for these services, depending on their savings or income. A financial assessment will be undertaken by the local authority if your loved one is deemed to be eligible for care following a needs assessment.
Allowances for you and your loved one
If you’re planning to take care of your loved one 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 a carer’s assessment.
If their needs have changed, the person you care for may be entitled to allowances they weren’t entitled to before. For example, they may now be entitled to an Attendance Allowance if aged over 65 years or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) if under the age of 65.
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