Help us get patients home as early as possible

Posted: January 31, 2017

What you can do to help speed up discharges

Nursing staff at the Great Western Hospital are reminding families, friends and carers what they can do to ensure patients can leave hospital as soon as they are well enough.

Staff do everything they can to ensure patients can leave hospital in a timely, well planned way and supported way when they no longer need this level of care, however there are also lots of things local people can also do to help.

At any one time up to around 30 patients at the Great Western Hospital are well enough to leave, but are still receiving care in hospital. Discharges can be delayed for a number of complex reasons, often in relation to on-going care the patient will need after they leave hospital. 

For people aged 80 years and over, 10 days spent in a hospital bed equates to 10 years of muscle wasting, according to NHS England.

Julie Marshman, Deputy Chief Nurse, said: "Delays in leaving hospital reduce the number of beds available to other patients who need them, as well as causing unnecessarily long stays in hospital for patients.

"No one wants to be in hospital for longer than they need to be and evidence suggests that people's physical and mental ability and independence can decline if they are spending time in a hospital bed unnecessarily. They are also more at risk of infections and falls.

"We are now starting discussions about care the patient will need after leaving hospital much earlier in the patient's stay. This could be anything from making adaptions to the home, to arranging regular help around the home or a move to a nursing home.

"These are often big decisions which rely on the family and health and social care organisations working together, so that arrangements can be made in time for the patient to leave hospital.

The Trust has introduced an information leaflet for patients and their relatives, friends and carers, which lists things to think about and what they can do to help. It's hoped the leaflet will prompt discussions and plans to begin earlier on in the patients stay.

Julie added: "The most important thing is that people start talking about longer term care needs early on. On-going care often takes a long time to arrange so the earlier plans can be agreed the sooner we can transfer the patient into a better environment."

Gill May, Executive Nurse at Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group said: "The pressures on emergency services are closely linked with the need to ensure that patients who are medically fit to be discharged, can leave the hospital in a timely way. 
 
"We know many patients require further help and support at home from health and social care partners, but not everyone requires this. We would ask that family, friends and neighbours support patients who are medically fit for discharge to get home in a timely and safe way.

"This will go a long way to release the much needed beds for those patients currently waiting for a bed."

There is lots of support available for patients returning home, including the Royal Voluntary Service's Home from Hospital Service which offers home visits for up to six weeks. Age UK and Swindon Borough Council are also useful resources offering a range of advice, support and benefits.

What family, friends and carers can do to help

  • Be involved in discussions around the patient's recovery and on-going care needs, so that arrangements can be made early on
  • Arrange any help around the home
  • Arrange any adaptions needed to the home
  • Collect medicine or equipment the patient might need
  • Arrange transport and ensure the patient has a key to get in
  • Bring the clothes and shoes to leave hospital in
  • Make the home comfortable for the patient's return by putting the heating on and stocking the fridge.

Further information can be found on the 'Leaving hospital' section of the website (  www.gwh.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/leaving-hospital/).

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