Information and involvement
A major reason people felt their discharge did not work well for them was because they weren't given clear information about what would happen to them. People also wanted to have the chance to be involved in decisions about their departure from care - and for their families and carers to be involved too.
People need clear information from the moment their care begins in hospital about what will happen when they leave. They need to be a part of that planning process, and for their families and carers to be involved too when appropriate.
Here are some examples of what Healthwatch around the country heard about people's experiences, what they would like to change,
Healthwatch Suffolk found that people leaving their local hospital were not being given adequate information about how to manage their symptoms, possible side effects of new medications, or who to call for advice out of hours. They told the hospital what they'd heard and, as a result, a daily teleconference has been established between the hospital’s discharge planning team and the area’s Clinical Commissioning Group to improve communication between the discharge planning team, patients and their families and carers.
In their research, Healthwatch East Riding of Yorkshire, Healthwatch North Lincolnshire and Healthwatch Kingston-Upon-Hull heard that people wanted greater clarity about when they would be discharged and the support that would be made available to them afterwards. People also wanted planning for their discharge to start early. Those providing ongoing care agreed - half the care homes and home care professionals Healthwatch spoke to said that not being involved in planning people's discharge had a negative impact on the individual. Healthwatch heard that poor planning led to people being discharged “late at night” and “dressed only in hospital garments”
However, they also talked about what happened when things went well, including:
- Occasions when care homes were told when residents would go home so that staff could make necessary plans.
- When family members and care homes were involved in discussions about discharge arrangements, particularly when patients couldn’t make decisions themselves.
A third of patients (30%) Healthwatch Kent (2017) spoke to said they didn’t feel involved or listened to during their transfer. Almost half (44%) said that the date and time of their discharge was not discussed with them. Almost two-thirds (62%) said that their discharge plan was not discussed or agreed with family or carers. Thanks to Healthwatch Kent’s findings, the local hospital trust has introduced a series of measures to ensure staff are better equipped to provide support, and patients are more empowered to ask questions about their discharge plan.