GREAT Western Hospital is asking friends, families and carers to ensure patients can leave hospital as soon as possible.

At any one time, up to 50 patients are well enough to go home but are still awaiting discharge. Discharges can be delayed for complex reasons, often in relation to further care the patient will need after they leave hospital.

Staff do all they can to ensure patients can leave in a timely, well-planned and supported way.

Families, friends and carers can help by being promptly available to take part in discussions around the patient's recovery and on-going care needs, so that arrangements can be made early on

They can arrange help around the home for when the patient is discharged, work with social care where needed, collect medicine or equipment the patient might need, arrange transport for collection in the morning and ensurethe patient has a key to their home, bringing the patient's clothes and shoes, make the home comfortable for the patient’s return by putting the heating on and stocking the fridge, and visit the patient to make sure they have settled well when back at home.


Chief nurse Julie Marshman said: “It’s absolutely essential for patients to receive care in the best place for them, which will not always be a large acute hospital. As winter approaches, it’s crucial that our beds are available for patients who need medical intervention and care in a hospital setting.

“The most important thing is that we start talking with patients and their families about any long-term care needs they may have early on. Often a patient is well enough to leave hospital, but needs further care, either at home, in a rehabilitation facility, or in a nursing or care home, which can take a long time to arrange.

“We understand the importance of getting patients back to the comfort of their own homes and do not want to keep them in a large acute hospital any longer than is needed. This is because however good the care is in hospital, many patients can deteriorate after a longer stay, particularly patients who are frail and have dementia.

“Once a patient is well enough to leave hospital, the best option may be to receive ongoing care in another care setting where the patient can continue their recovery.”

As part of the #HelpingYouToGetHome campaign, the trust has introduced a new information leaflet, which highlights what local people can do to help get their loved ones home, as well as what to expect from NHS staff.

It is hoped the leaflet will prompt discussions and help health and social care staff plan the patient’s on-going care earlier.

Dr Ruth Grabham, medical director for Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“This year, like never before, people have gone out of their way to support the NHS but, as we head into what is expected to be a very busy winter, one of the most productive methods of helping the health service is to know the practical steps that can be taken to help a friend or relative leave hospital when ready to be discharged.

“Whether it’s being available to offer transport on the day of discharge, ensuring there’s enough food in the patient’s cupboards for when they get home or just being there to engage in a constructive dialogue with healthcare professionals about next steps, these small things really do make a difference in helping people to get on their way in a timely, yet safe and supported, way.”

The trust is reminding carers of the support available from local organisations to help patients returning home from hospital, including Carer Support Wiltshire and the Royal Voluntary Service’s Home from Hospital Service which offers home visits for up to six weeks.