Leaving hospital should be a happy time, showing you’re on the road to recovery and ready for some home comforts. So why are so many patients reporting a poor experience?
In the 21st century shouldn’t we expect some basic kindnesses to form part of our NHS?
What about helping an over-burdened carer get their sick relative and belongings to their car? Or making sure a vulnerable older person gets food and drink while they’re waiting to leave hospital.
Problems when leaving hospital
Our survey of nearly 2,000 inpatients and carers showed that the majority rated leaving hospital positively, but half reported specific problems for the patient. Poor communication affected a quarter.
One daughter told us that her frail mother developed pressure sores after being left for eight hours in a waiting room, thirsty and hungry.
You might think that – in these cash-strapped times – there’s nothing left in the pot for all but the essentials. But, as Sandra Wall of the Wirral Older People’s Parliament told us, it doesn’t have to cost money.
Her older people’s lobbying group worked with the local council to make some simple changes that really made a difference. These included introducing short-stay parking spaces outside the discharge lounge and organising volunteers to help newly-discharged patients.
Time to talk and listen
We’ve heard the word ‘dignity’ a lot in recent times, and isn’t that what a lot of this is about? Patients and carers need to know what plans are being made for when they leave. And it’s important that all the medication and services they need is written down, with a copy to the GP, so a poorly patient knows what to expect.
Maybe I’m naïve about the constraints on busy wards, but it seems to me that some of the indignities we’ve heard about wouldn’t happen if staff took the time to talk – and listen – to patients. And surely that doesn’t cost money?