Discharge from hospital: What support will I get | Age 51Թapp


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Leaving hospital

No one enjoys having to stay in hospital and it’s understandable to want to know your discharge date as soon as possible. But your health and recovery are the priority, so you shouldn’t be discharged from hospital until the staff decide you no longer need to be there to receive the care you need.

When will I be discharged from hospital?

If your admission was planned, hospital staff should be able to tell you how long your stay is likely to be before you arrive.

If you're admitted to hospital in an emergency, staff should make a diagnosis and agree a treatment plan with you before advising you on how long your stay might be.

During your stay, staff will discuss your discharge with you. You shouldn't be sent home from hospital until staff have assessed your immediate needs. You might not need formal care and support when you leave, simply advice or support to arrange help with shopping or domestic tasks for a few weeks.

What will hospital staff do to prepare me for discharge?

Here are some of the basic things staff responsible for your discharge should make sure are in place, particularly if you don't need any formal care when you leave hospital:

  • you have clothes to wear home and front door keys
  • you have enough money for short-term needs
  • there’s someone collecting you, or a taxi or hospital transport is booked
  • you, and where necessary your carer, have a supply of medication to take home and understand any new medication you’ve been given
  • you and/or your carer can use any new equipment aids with confidence
  • if you need incontinence products, a supply has been arranged
  • you know about support available from local organisations if you initially need help with tasks such as shopping or collecting prescriptions
  • your GP has been informed of your discharge.

How am I assessed for ongoing support?

The nurse in charge of your care should explain the following to you, and your carer if you have one:

  • the criteria the doctor will use when deciding you no longer need to be in hospital
  • when they think you'll be ready to leave
  • where they think you're likely to be able to move to
  • the needs you'll likely have at that time.

Once it’s decided you no longer need to be in hospital, staff will usually arrange for you to be discharged the same day.

Many patients don’t need formal care, and only need help at home with domestic tasks for a few weeks. But if you do need formal care, you won’t have a detailed assessment in hospital. This will take place wherever it’s decided you should be discharged to, either on the same day or the day after.

In most cases, you'll be discharged to your own home, in which case hospital staff would arrange any immediate care you need once you're home. But you may be discharged to a residential setting such as a community hospital or care home.

It's a good idea to ask how any care provided on discharge will be paid for, as this may vary depending on where you live.

Your care and support after leaving hospital

Staff will discuss your needs and then agree with you a recovery and support plan, which might include any equipment you need or reablement support. This will help you learn or re-learn daily living skills, improve your mobility and rebuild confidence you may have lost while you were unwell.

If you're eligible for intermediate care or reablement it should be provided free of charge for up to 6 weeks. 

After you're discharged, as well as supporting you to recover further, staff are expected to carry out an assessment of your ongoing health and care needs. They should decide how this will be funded and let you know whether you'll need to contribute towards the cost. 

The NHS has produced a series of leaflets to give you more information on what happens when you leave hospital:

How are my needs for long-term care assessed?

If your condition is unlikely to improve further, staff will consider whether you have a longer-term need for care and support. This might be after you receive recovery and support services.

You may need an assessment for NHS continuing healthcare, if staff believe you may be eligible, or a local authority care needs assessment – or in some cases a joint assessment that leads to a decision about your eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare or for local authority support.

If you have a local authority care needs assessment, the staff will look at your health and care needs as well as the emotional and social side of your life. For example, you may need help with things like personal care or preparing and eating meals. The aim is to help you to live as independently as possible.

If the assessments show that you're eligible for support, the council will assess your finances to see whether you need to contribute to the cost of long-term care.

If you have a carer, they're entitled to a separate care assessment and there may be support available for them too.

Find out more about the care needs assessment

How is the support I need arranged?

If you're eligible for support, staff work with you to decide how best to meet your needs. They give you a written care plan showing what help you’ll get and details of who to contact with any questions or problems. Your local authority will help you arrange services either in your own home or a care home.

If you received post-hospital support in a residential setting, are eligible for local authority help and are able to go back home, staff will make sure support services are ready to start before you leave.

If you have eligible care needs but aren’t eligible for financial support, you must arrange your own services to meet your needs and staff must be sure you’re able to do this.

Will my care plan be reviewed?

The local authority must check the support is still right for you within a reasonable time frame. After this, your care plan should be reviewed at least once a year, or more often if needed.

If at any time you find that the support services aren’t suitable, you should contact social services and ask for a review of your care plan.

Find out more about care plans

How can I arrange my own home care?

If you only need help with domestic tasks for a few weeks while you recover, hospital staff may be able to organise this or suggest local organisations that can help.

Your local Age 51Թapp and other voluntary organisations may offer ‘home from hospital support’. These services help to get your home ready for your return and assist with non-medical tasks such as shopping and light housework.

If you have care needs but don’t meet the eligibility criteria for local authority support, you should still be given information to help you arrange your own care. If you’re arranging your own care, it’s always a good idea to get an outline of costs and services from several local agencies. When you find one you’re happy with, you can agree a care plan.

Find out what Age 51Թapp services are available in your area


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What if I need to go into a care home?

Thinking about moving into a care home can feel daunting, but we have information that explains everything you need to find the right one, including types of care home, paying for a care home, finding a care home and choosing the right one.

Find out more about care homes

How can I prepare to leave hospital?

  1. Review your hospital care plan and keep it in a safe place.
  2. Make a list of questions for hospital staff.
  3. Organise for someone to pick you up from hospital or check if the hospital can organise for transport.

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We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age 51Թapps.

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Last updated: Apr 09 2024

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