Planning for discharge from hospital
The discharge team is generally responsible for ensuring your safe discharge from hospital and the main point of contact will usually be the ‘discharge co-ordinator’ or ‘ward co-ordinator’. However, each hospital does have its own discharge policy so you should ensure you ask who will be responsible for coordinating your discharge.
If you are going into hospital for a planned procedure, deciding what will happen upon your discharge should take place before you go into hospital. If you are in hospital for an unplanned admission, it is important that discharge planning takes place from the day of your arrival.
You will usually be given an estimated discharge date within 24 to 48 hours of having been admitted, and should this change over time you should be kept updated by the healthcare staff in the hospital. As a patient in hospital you should not be discharged from hospital until:
- you are medically fit (this can only be decided by the consultant or someone the consultant has said can make the decision on their behalf)
- you have had an assessment to look at the support you need to be discharged safely
- you have been given a written care plan that sets out the support you’ll get to meet your assessed needs
- the support described in your care plan has been put in place and it’s safe for you to be discharged
There are generally two options for post-hospitalisation care – the patient may continue to heal and recover in a residential care home or, depending on a patient’s needs and desires, they may respond better to returning to the familiarity and comfort of their own home with specialist home care on-hand.
To determine if and what type of care you may need to be discharged from hospital a discharge assessment will be completed. This could be carried out by a team of health and social care professionals, especially if your needs are more complex, including (but not limited to) a hospital consultant, nursing staff, a social worker, a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist. You should be involved in this process and your views, and those of your family, listened to.
If you are to return to your own home with support from a home care provider you should inform them of this process so as they can be involved as required and make plans for your care. The discharge assessment may also include an assessor viewing you in your own home to understand how you will cope upon your return.
Following the completion of a discharge assessment by the health and social care professionals in hospital a care plan will then be drawn up, detailing the health and social care support for you. The care plan should include details of:
- the treatment and support you will get when you’re discharged
- who will be responsible for providing support, and how to contact them
- when, and how often, support will be provided
- how the support will be monitored and reviewed
- the name of the person who is co-ordinating the care plan
- who to contact if there’s an emergency or if things don’t work as they should
- information about any charges that will need to be paid (if applicable)