Hundreds of patients are spending more time in hospital than they need to every week. Today we are asking you to do all you can to support family or friends in hospital to return home when safe to do so.
Whilst hospital is the right place for them to receive treatment, it is the last place that most of them want to be as they recover. It also impacts on the NHS’s ability to treat new patients seeking urgent care.
We know how important it is for people’s recovery to be back home, with family and loved ones around them, and comfortable, familiar surroundings around them.
Many of those are older people who are often frail, and while a short period of treatment in hospital is sometimes necessary, staying too long can leave them vulnerable to infections or feeling more poorly.
We also know hospitals are exceptionally busy – more so than ever before – and NHS staff need us to support as many people who are safe to leave hospital to return home. This will allow our frontline teams to treat more people who need urgent care.
The NHS is doing everything possible to make this happen but we cannot do this on our own and we need your help too.
It's a real team effort with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and lots of others working together to ensure everyone who is well enough can leave hospital and be home.
You are part of that team too. If you share a household or are a carer, close friend or relative to someone you know in hospital, and you are their key point of contact, there are things you can do to help with their discharge from hospital including:
- staying in contact with the ward they are on so everyone is clear about and prepared for the expected date of discharge
- supporting with any necessary arrangements to provide suitable clothing and shoes for the person being discharged and understanding their ongoing medication needs
- helping with their transport home. If you can help take a relative, friend or neighbour home when they are ready to leave hospital it helps them get home more quickly
- thinking about how you could support a relative with COVID-19 (or who has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19) to come home if it is safe and you are able to do so – there are many people in hospital who are not unwell or needing treatment related to COVID-19. Simple precautions like setting up a dedicated or spare room, opening windows and social distancing, as well as being vaccinated can help loved-ones to get home sooner and ensure that other people who need health services can get treatment.
Little things like popping some milk and food in their fridge, turning on the heating in their home and checking for trip/fall hazards like trailing cables and rugs can make a big difference too.
All these things can help patients leaving hospital get back in their own homes more smoothly and to recover.
And, if you can, and in line with advice around coronavirus, could help by taking family members to hospital for outpatients appointments too that also really helps our transport services at this busy time.
Remember there's still a range of health help and advice available to you and your loved ones should you need it. Follow any advice provided to the person on discharge first but if you are unsure what to do call the patient's GP surgery or contact NHS 111, online or by phone.