Improvements to the way services talk to patients about leaving hospital care

Posted on: 5th January 2024

Health and social care services in Lincolnshire are improving the way they talk to patients, their families and carers about discharge from hospital.

Patients will now start to receive information about discharge and the support services available to them for their ongoing health and social care needs as early as pre-operative assessment for planned care or upon emergency admission.

This new approach will apply to all inpatient hospital services in Lincolnshire, excluding those for mental health, and has been developed jointly between Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust and Lincolnshire County Council.

This stronger and clearer communication process for discharges will better support people to make informed decisions as early as possible as they move home or other settings, and help everyone to understand the appropriate use of inpatient hospital beds.

Any delay to discharge can significantly impact other patients and services, contributing to long waiting times in emergency departments and ambulance handover delays.

Julie Frake-Harris, Chief Operating Officer for Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust and United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Our data tells us that for every single patient who spends an extra night unnecessarily in an acute hospital bed, it impacts the care of four other people. These people could be at home waiting for emergency care, sat waiting in an ambulance, experiencing long waits in emergency departments, or waiting in an admission area for specialist ward care.

“We want our patients and those involved in their care to have all the information they need to start planning as early as possible to return home or to another appropriate setting.

“We need patients and families to work with us to ensure that when they no longer need the specialist clinical skills and expertise provided to them when they were in a hospital bed, that it can quickly be made available to the next person who needs it just as they did.

“Honest and open discussions from the outset will help to prevent avoidable delays.”

The information provided to patients, families and carers includes standardised factsheets about discharge options available, along with formal letters confirming where patients are in the discharge process, why they may no longer need a hospital bed and what steps may be taken if they decline the discharge provision being made available to them.

Organisations in Lincolnshire use a home first approach to discharge, which means that, wherever possible, people will be supported to return home or to their chosen place of care.

Discharge options can include a range of health and social care services, including home care, reablement, community hospitals and transitional care.

For more information about hospital discharge and what happens after, visit: when-am-i-going-home/