Leaving hospital can be just as daunting as going into hospital for some people. This section gives information on what should happen when you leave hospital and some tips on how to prepare for your return home.
If you’ve had a stay in hospital and are ready to be discharged, getting a bit of extra support can help to boost your recovery, re-build your confidence, and so give you a better chance of living safely at home again. Services called intermediate care or re-ablement services offer this type of support.
The process of leaving hospital once you are well enough is called hospital discharge. The staff on the ward should discuss your needs with you, and your relatives and carers, and will work with you to plan your discharge before you leave hospital.
You shouldn’t be discharged from hospital until:
- Your consultant has said you are medically fit
- You have had an assessment to look at the support you need to be discharged safely.
- You have been given a written care plan that sets out the support you’ll get
- The support described in your care plan has been put in place and it’s safe for you to be discharged
Clothes, keys and money
You need to make sure that you have clothes to go home in, including shoes and a coat. Often visitors can help by bringing in what you need from home.
Check that you have got your front door key and enough money for things like taxi fares. If you have any difficulties, talk to the person at the hospital who is overseeing your discharge, so that they can help you to sort things out.
Preparing the house for your return
Before you leave hospital, you might want to ask friends and family to help with things such as:
- switching the heating on;
- making up your bed;
- getting in basic food supplies, such as bread and milk; and
- preparing a meal for your return.
If you need a piece of special equipment, such as a bath seat or a walking frame, this should be supplied before you are discharged.
In the same way, if your home needs to be adapted in some way, these adaptations should be made before you are sent home.
Coming home from Hospital
The discharge process
It is important that your house is ready for your return. You may be worried that you’ve left your house in a mess, especially if you had to go into hospital unexpectedly. If this concerns you, maybe family, friends or neighbours can go in and tidy up for you.
It is the hospital’s responsibility to ensure that you don’t leave hospital unless adequate arrangements for your support at home have been made. You should be given the name and details of the person coordinating your discharge. They are sometimes called Discharge Coordinators or Ward Coordinators.
If you need ongoing support when you leave hospital, a discharge assessment may be carried out by a multidisciplinary team of professionals before you leave hospital. They will then draw up a care plan for you. Depending on your needs, the team could include a social worker, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, mental health nurse or dietitian.