What To Do When The Person You Care For Is Leaving Hospital

What To Do When The Person You Care For Is Leaving Hospital

If the person you care for has been taken to hospital after a fall or is in need of an operation, this can be very stressful for you and everyone around them, regardless of age. Here are some tips on what to do before they are discharged from hospital to ensure everything is taken care of for them. 

Arrange appropriate care for when they return 

Before they enter or are discharged from hospital, extra care options should be arranged for anyone you care for, meaning you can put everything in place before they return home. Depending on the councils, they will qualify for free care for the first 6 weeks. Social services will supply and organise for a local care agency to visit your home. This temporary care is called intermediate care, reablement or aftercare.  

  Other things they may need are: 

  • Visits from a district nurse and Occupational Therapist.
  • Any equipment to be fitted, such as a raised toilet seat
  • Any home adaptations to be made, like grab rails 
  • A Hospital bed

While the patient is recovering in the hospital,  staff will arrange for the discharge assessment team to assess their needs. You may like to ask about this to ensure that happens in a timely manner.

If they live on their own, it is likely that they will need to apply for NHS continuing healthcare, if they are unable to, you can apply on their behalf. Without NHS continuing healthcare, they will not be allowed to go home if staff think that they will be unable to cope, so it is important that you move this process along as fast as you can. One way around this is if you or other family members live with them. If that is the case, they may discharge them and assess them in their own home, which is much more comfortable for all involved.

Rest and recovery

Sometimes after a hospital stay, staff may decide the patient needs additional time to recover before they can go back home. Rehabilitation services are provided in various forms, such as skilled nursing facilities (SNF), inpatient rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, rehab units within hospitals, and other specialized settings. It is important that you aks about this, so that you, and the person you are caring for, know what is going to happen and can prepare for that.

Ask about what you need

Make sure you ask questions on anything you are unsure of or think they will need. You can be involved in all these discussions and can ask on their behalf, read about mental capacity for discussion here.

Discussions could include things like:

  • Treatment and care for when they get home
  • How to contact you
  • When and how often they need care
  • Care plan
  • Dates 
  • Equipment
  • Lifelines 

What hospital staff should be doing

Before your loved one leaves, after their assessment has been carried out, hospital staff should make sure that:

  • They are able to get home
  • If they live in a care home, that they have their care plan and their care home has a copy too
  • Medication has been provided, with relevant instructions 
  • They can use new equipment, such as crutches, hoist, or a commode
  • Their GP knows they have been discharged
  • They know how to get help from a district nurse if they need it, or when to expect a visit
  • They are properly dressed 
  • They have eaten and consumed enough fluids
  • Any incontinence issues have been addressed

When the person being cared for gets home (i.e. by using either hospital transport or a lift from a friend or family member) everything should be put in place. It is also important to remember that carers may not be able to use the equipment until there has been an assessment by an Occupational Therapist or professional recovery care to ensure that is it in good working order.

The aim of this type of short-term care is to help your loved one look after themselves and maintain their independence rather than have someone care for them. It also helps them for the following reasons: 

  • Helps to avoid unnecessary hospital stays
  • Ensures they have the correct equipment to avoid falls
  • Ensures that NHS professionals visit
  • It may help the family to adjust

Ensure ongoing care

Soon after the person being cared for leaves the hospital, social services, your district nurse, occupational therapist, carer or a care agency will check if the care plan developed, to ensure that it is correct. If they are likely to need care for longer, then they will work with the person being cared for to put together a free short term plan and arrange carers. This care isn’t always free {depending on your loved ones financial status}, please see info {on care assessment,}{also information on finding care} 

What to do if you’re unhappy with the hospital discharge

You can complain if you’re unhappy with a hospital discharge, or the discharge of someone else you know. For example, if:

  • The hospital plans to discharge someone you care for before you think it’s safe
  • You don’t think your discharge assessment was done correctly

You should also speak to the hospital staff who arranged your discharge. It may help to get advice from the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) or your local Independent Health Complaints Advocacy service. See also information from the NHS about how to complain.

For more information on coming out of hospital please see the Carers UK help and advice page

Author: James

I founded and manage PrimeCarers, a Platform that connects Private Clients with Private Carers near them.