'Please help us get people home from hospital'

Torbay Weekly

This week Dr Kate Lissett, Consultant in Diabetes and Endocrinology and System Medical Director (South Devon), talks about how family, friends and carers can support people to get home from hospital

We know that most people would prefer to be in their own bed and not spend unnecessary time in hospital. Our teams work round the clock to help people who have needed care in hospital get back to friends and loved ones quickly, but inevitably delays can happen. This is a big issue at the moment.

I’m asking for your support to help people who are ready to leave hospital get home as quickly as they can.

Being in familiar surroundings with support from loved ones, family and friends is the best thing for your mental wellbeing. So while when you are really unwell our hospitals are the place you need to be, once you are medically stable, you recover much faster at home, if you have the right support around you.

Hospitals are busy places with lots of interruptions, talking and noises from equipment, which can cause long-term sleep deprivation, slowing down people’s recovery. People are at higher risk of confusion in a hospital environment too.

Home is also best because people are at less risk of infection at home. This is really important given the ongoing pandemic. When you are sick, you are likely to have reduced resistance to picking up bacteria or fungal infections or viruses, what we call a hospital acquired infection.

Research shows that if you stay in bed for long periods when in hospital, you lose mobility, fitness and muscle strength – making it harder for you to regain your independence. You are also likely to stay in hospital longer. We encourage everyone staying in our hospital to get up, get dressed and keep moving when they are well enough to do so, but know that people tend to be more active if we can support them to leave hospital.

Leaving hospital is a positive step in someone’s recovery but it’s important to plan carefully, so that they have the support they need. It is normal for people to take time to recover; by thinking through their daily routine together, we can identify potential problems early, and plan for any care or support that might be needed.

If you have a family member or friend in one of our hospitals, please don’t be afraid to ask when they can go home and what the plan is to make this happen.

When they are ready to go home you can support them by:

· stocking their fridge and cupboards with essential items

· putting the heating on, if needed

· making sure they have their keys and enough money for the first few days at home

· picking them up from the hospital and taking them home

If you can help provide some care for loved ones it will help us have capacity to care for people who are acutely unwell. Very often simple arrangements, for example, regular visits or phone calls and some help with meals mean that someone can go home more quickly.

We know you are busy with work, childcare, or other commitments, and it may not be convenient to collect their loved one from hospital when we call, but the quicker we can get someone home, the quicker we can give the bed to another person who really needs it.

It’s been a very hard couple of years, but by working together we can do the best we can for our whole community. Thank you for your support.