Help us by sharing your experience of leaving hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic
Director of policy and advocacy Naomi Phillips explains why the British Red Cross and Healthwatch England are asking patients to share their experiences
The Covid-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on our health and social care system. We’ve seen the virus expose health inequalities, disrupt services and put huge pressure on hardworking clinical staff for months now.
Many thousands of people have been in and out of hospital during this time and the British Red Cross would like to know more about their experiences. We’re also keen to explore why people went into hospital in the first place.
We’ve teamed up with Healthwatch England because we want to know how changes and new guidelines on the way people are discharged from hospital have helped their recovery or impacted on people’s health and wellbeing.
Help us do that by filling in this short and confidential survey if you or a loved one has recently left hospital – or by sharing it with others on social media using #BecauseWeAllCare.
If you want to find out more about the hospital discharge guidance and research, follow this link.
How this research will help
We’ve long had an interest in how people recover when they leave hospital, how they reconnect with others when they do, and the types of support they need in the short and medium term.
The British Red Cross has been at the forefront of the Covid-19 response in hospitals around the UK.
We’ve helped more than 17,000 people leave hospital since the start of March and we were already working in more than 20 hospitals around the UK before the Covid-19 crisis.
We’ve published reports such as Home to the unknown and In and out of hospital that explore what people need if they are to have the best chances of a good recovery following a period of illness or injury, and we’ve made recommendations we feel could improve outcomes for patients.
Making a difference
A number of the changes brought in to respond to the increasing numbers of Covid-19 patients have been in line with recommendations we’ve made.
Guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) instructed hospitals to provide dedicated staff support, to manage people’s transport home and to work with the voluntary sector to ensure people’s immediate practical needs – simple things like having food in the fridge and hot running water – are met.
It also asks that people’s care and support needs are assessed at home and not in hospital and that patients are called the day after leaving hospital to see how they are doing.
As the NHS now seeks to resume services which had been paused or reduced during the Covid-19 response, including restarting elective surgery and managing increasing numbers of emergency admissions, getting people out of hospital will, arguably, be even more important in improving patient flow and people’s experiences.
These are welcome improvements as our research has found that, while people appreciate the fantastic care and commitment of healthcare professionals, they can feel unsupported when they leave hospital.
They can struggle to navigate a new health condition, with complicated medical instructions from their doctors, and lacking the home adaptations and support they need to rebuild their confidence and stay healthy.
This is why the British Red Cross has been calling for simple, practical changes to support people’s recovery after discharge.
Looking ahead to the future
We need more investment in non-clinical support, supported by a five-part independence check to be completed as part of an improved approach to patient discharge.
This would include assessing people’s financial, physical, emotional, social and practical independence prior to discharge or within 72 hours of returning home.
Some of the changes brought in because of Covid-19 will no doubt have been positive. Others may not.
It's important that any lessons are learnt so that, when it comes to hospital discharge, the health and social care system is as prepared as it can be for whatever challenges come next, whether that be a second peak, the usual winter pressures, or business as usual.
Director of policy and advocacy
Naomi Phillips is director of policy and advocacy at the British Red Cross and part of its strategic leadership team. Naomi specialises in policy, research, advocacy, government relations, public affairs and partnership working.
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