Arranging care before you leave hospital

If you or someone you know goes into hospital, help and support should be arranged before you go home (are discharged).

This means:

  • any extra help is arranged, such as visits from a district nurse or paid home help
  • any equipment is fitted, such as a raised toilet seat
  • any home adaptations are made, like grab rails in the bathroom

What happens while you're in hospital

Hospital staff should contact social services to arrange a discharge assessment. This is so they can find out what help you need when you go home.

It doesn't matter if your hospital stay was planned or an emergency.

The assessment can happen in hospital, or they might visit your home.

It helps to have a key safe at home, or to leave keys with family or friends.

Speak to staff in charge of your discharge to make sure you have everything you need. This includes a date, care plan and equipment.

You'll be involved in the assessment and agree a care plan together.

This should include things like:

  • treatment and care when you get home
  • who's in charge of your care and how to contact them
  • when and how often you need care

Preparing to leave hospital

Hospital staff should make sure:

  • you can get home
  • you have your care plan and your care home has a copy, if you live in one
  • you have any medicine you need and know how to take it
  • you can use new equipment, such as crutches
  • your GP knows you have been discharged
  • you know how to get help from a district nurse if you need it, or when to expect a visit

When you get home from hospital

Temporary care

If you have had a short illness or an operation, you might only need care for a short time to get back to normal.

This is called intermediate care, reablement or aftercare.

Care is free for up to 6 weeks.

Ongoing care

Soon after you leave hospital, social services will check if your care plan is right.

If you're likely to need care for longer than 6 weeks, they'll work with you to put a care plan in place. This care isn't free.

Care plans are checked once a year, but if at any time you feel your care isn't right, contact social services and ask for a review.

What to do if you're unhappy with your hospital discharge

You can complain if you're unhappy with your hospital discharge, or the discharge of someone you know.

For example, if:

  • the hospital plans to discharge you before you think it's safe
  • you don't think your discharge assessment was done correctly

Speak to the hospital staff who arranged your discharge.

It might help to get advice from the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) or your local Independent Health Complaints Advocacy service.

Read more about the NHS complaints process.

Page last reviewed: 31/07/2018
Next review due: 31/07/2021