accessibility & help

British Red Cross helps bridge the gap between hospital and home

9 January 2017

The British Red Cross in Plymouth has boosted its usual Support at Home service to help alleviate some of the pressures facing Derriford Hospital and services in the community.

In response to the high demand, the existing Red Cross Support at Home service, which is funded by Plymouth City Council, has increased its operating capacity to provide extra support to hospital staff and help reduce delay in patient discharge.

Staff members from the charity have been assigned to the hospital where they are supporting Matrons by helping to arrange transport for discharged patients and ensuring those patients are settled back into their homes by trained volunteers.

Those volunteers, who provide a range of practical support such as collecting shopping and prescriptions or preparing a light meal, have increased their availability over the next few days.

Sam Snelling, Independent Living operations manager at the Red Cross, says: “Having Red Cross staff members based at the hospital means we can rapidly respond to requests for support from hospital staff. That could be transporting patients home ourselves, or arranging for one of our volunteers to meet a patient at their home to make sure they have everything they need. We have boosted our service to provide as much support as possible.”

Once settled back into their homes, volunteers make regular visits to service users over the following weeks as they recuperate. This smooths the process of settling back into a normal routine, enabling people to regain their confidence and independence much sooner.

Sam explains: “Our experience shows us that where more vulnerable patients are supported at the point of leaving hospital, it helps free up beds, helps NHS staff, and helps the patient in their recovery at home.

“Recovery doesn’t stop at the hospital doors – recognising this, and giving people the help they need to get home means they’re less likely to return again through the front doors of A&E.”

The Red Cross believe that too many people are reaching the point of health and social care crisis before they receive support. There are a variety of factors affecting the system which contribute to this problem but integrating health care and social care could help prevent more vulnerable people from being readmitted to hospital – and in some cases prevent them from needing to attend hospital in the first place, if they are able to receive preventative care at home.

Councillor Lynda Bowyer, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care for Plymouth City Council, said: “We are working hard with other organisations in the local health and social care system to help alleviate the pressures being felt at Derriford Hospital.

“As part of a range of measures to address this Plymouth City Council has commissioned extra capacity from the British Red Cross’s Support at Home service, to help discharge people from hospital when they are ready but need a bit of extra support to regain independence in their own home.

“We are committed to ensuring that Plymouth has a more joined up health and social care services and that people get the right care in the right place at the right time and we are working with all our local partners, including British Red Cross, Derriford Hospital, NEW Devon CCG and Livewell Southwest, to ensure this happens.”

The Red Cross has called on Government to allocate immediate funding to stabilise the current system and set out plans towards creating a sustainable funding settlement for the future. At the very least, the extra money allocated to the Better Care Fund should be brought forward.

To find out more about the Red Cross please visit


Notes to editors

For more information call Samantha Whitwham on 0117 301 2604 or email

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

Follow us on Twitter: @RedCrossSouth

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