Your guide to care and support

Your care after discharge from hospital

If you go into hospital, you may be worried about whether you'll cope when you leave.

You shouldn’t be sent home until:

  • agreed support is in place
  • services are ready to start
  • any home adaptations have been made
  • appropriate equipment has been delivered or installed

Before you go into hospital

If you're due to go into hospital, planning for what happens afterwards should happen before you arrive.

For unplanned hospital stays, for instance if you've had a fall and hurt yourself, discharge planning should begin on the day you're admitted.

You'll usually be given an estimated date of discharge within 24 to 48 hours of being admitted to hospital. Your progress will be reviewed and, if there’s likely to be a change to your discharge date, you should be kept updated. Read more about what happens after surgery.

The person co-ordinating your discharge should be available each day, and you should be given their name and details of how to contact them. They're sometimes called "discharge co-ordinators" or "ward co-ordinators".

Hospital discharge assessments

A discharge assessment looks at the needs you are likely to have when you're discharged or transferred from hospital.

If you're eligible for help, staff will make sure support, services and any home adaptations are ready for you before you are sent home.

You should be fully involved in the discharge assessment, and your views should be listened to. With your permission, any family carers will also be kept informed and given the opportunity to contribute.

If you would like help putting your views across, an independent advocate (for example, from a charity such as Age UK) may be able to help.

Will I have home support?

A care plan will be drawn up, detailing the health and social care support you need after you leave hospital. You should be fully involved in making this plan. 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 (if applicable)

How will hospital staff prepare me for discharge?

Before you leave the hospital, the member of staff responsible for your discharge should make sure:

  • you have clothes to go home in, money and front door keys
  • there's someone collecting you, or a taxi or hospital transport has been booked
  • you (and a carer if you have one) have a copy of your care plan 
  • you and/or your carer understand any new medicines you've been given and you have a supply to take home
  • you've been shown how to use any equipment, aids or adaptations you need
  • you have incontinence products if you need them
  • your GP knows about your discharge and any help you need from a district nurse has been arranged

If you're being discharged to a care home, the care home should also be told the date and time of your discharge, and have a copy of your care plan.

What happens when I get home from hospital?

If you go home and support has been arranged for you, social services must check it’s still right for you within a reasonable time frame. After this, your care plan should be reviewed at least once a year or more often if needed.

If, at any time, you find that the support services aren’t suitable, you should contact social services and ask for a review of your care plan.

If there’s a possibility of you going to live in a care home permanently after a stay in hospital, ask about intermediate care or re-ablement services. They could allow you to make as full a recovery as possible before making such a decision.

Intermediate care and reablement

Intermediate care is short-term care that's provided free if you no longer need to be in hospital but you may need extra support to help your recovery. It lasts for up to six weeks and can be provided in your home or in a residential setting. Intermediate care is sometimes called reablement.

When your period of intermediate care or re-ablement finishes, you’ll be assessed to see whether you need any ongoing social care or NHS support

Carers and hospital discharge

If someone you know is in hospital and about to be discharged, don't feel under pressure to accept a caring role or take on more than you're already doing.

You need time to consider whether or not this is what you want or are able to do. If necessary, ask for other arrangements to be made while you're reaching a decision.

If you decide that you're going to care for the person who is being discharged from hospital, you're entitled to your own carer's assessment from social services.

After discharge from hospital

Your care should be monitored and reviewed as set out in your care plan. The care plan should also include details of who to contact if things don't work as planned.

If your care plan includes community care services from a local authority, it should include provision to check that their care package is working well within two weeks of your discharge. If you live alone, this should take place within the first few days of discharge. Following this, your care plan should be reviewed at least annually.

How to complain about hospital discharge

You might not be happy with the way your discharge from hospital is being handled. For example, if:

  • the hospital plans to discharge you before you think it's safe
  • there isn't enough support in your care plan
  • you don't think your discharge assessment and care planning was carried out correctly

If you are in this situation or you have concerns about someone else who is still in hospital, it's best to raise them straight away. Speak to the person who is co-ordinating the discharge, or the supervising consultant.

You may find it helpful to get support from the hospital's Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) or your local Independent Health Complaints Advocacy service.

If you want to complain about how a hospital discharge was handled, start by speaking to the staff involved to see if the problem can be resolved informally. Find out more about the NHS complaints process.

Page last reviewed: 22/01/2018
Next review due: 22/01/2021