As Devon’s NHS continues to experience severe pressure, local NHS teams are asking friends and relatives of people who are ready to go home from hospital to do all they can to pick them up as soon as possible.
All four of the county’s acute hospitals are seeing a very high number of people who are very poorly and need hospital care, particularly with Covid, flu, other respiratory illnesses and norovirus.
That means that when someone has been assessed by NHS staff as being medically fit to leave, it’s important they are helped home as soon as possible.
On behalf of NHS hospitals in Devon, Carolyn Mills, Chief Nursing Officer at the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our top priority is to help our patients get better and support them to leave hospital when the time is right, but we need your help to do this.
“No one wants to be in hospital for longer than they need to be. There is growing recognition that a lack of physical activity during hospital stays can have significant negative consequences for patients, especially in older people, which can lead to reduced functional ability and deconditioning, as well as the worsening of cognition.
“People are only discharged when they no longer need hospital care and it is safe to do so. Wherever possible, we would be hugely grateful if you can help us to get your loved one home when they are ready to be discharged.”
Other benefits of recovering at home include being more likely to get a good night’s sleep and removing the risk of picking up a hospital-acquired infection.
How friends and family can help people who have been assessed by doctors as medically ready to leave:
• Let the hospital or ward know when you will be arriving once you have been contacted about collection
• Provide or arrange transport
• Bring clean, comfortable clothes for them
• Make sure their home is warm enough
• Stock up on home essentials – make sure there is food and drink in the
• Check if they need any over-the-counter medication such as paracetamol or
ibuprofen to manage any pain they may have.
• Check in on them when they’re home to make sure they’re okay.
Help is available to support people at home once they’ve left hospital, and to try and prevent them being readmitted.
Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust’s medical director Ian Currie added: “We understand that some people may be worried or feel anxious about caring for someone, but our discharge teams will ask patients about their needs and what support network they have around them to ensure they’re looked after and avoid being readmitted to hospital.”
Some patients may be eligible for a personal health budget which can be used to help with transport costs, paying for a carer, and assisted equipment and adaptations. The funding can also be used to help with childcare costs for people who are taking time off work to care for someone.
Some patients may need to be discharged to a short-term care home bed and our teams will explain these to you and your loved one.
Care home residents will most likely return to their care home but on rare occasions, they may need to be discharged to a different care home for a short period.
To help hospital teams across the county, the local NHS, including South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, is appealing for people to choose the most appropriate service for their needs – to ensure people who need life threatening and critical care can be treated as quickly as possible.
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