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An elderly personal alarm with automatic fall detection can detect a fall and call for help without you needing to push the button. This is vital is you are unconscious or immobile following a sudden illness or a fall. The call will automatically go through to either your nominated contacts or a SureSafe operator, depending on which service you have chosen. You will be able to get the help you need fast, even if you are unable to press the button.

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Hospital Discharge Planning for Elderly Patients

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

An older person’s discharge from hospital is an important moment – so it has to be handled well. Typically, an elderly person finishing a hospital stay will be in a frailer state of health. It’s key that they are discharged to a safe environment where they are well cared for.

As a rule, discharge planning for elderly patients shouldn’t be done in a rush. It requires careful thought to ensure a good plan is in place for their recovery. In this post, we’ll discuss steps to help an older person’s hospital discharge go smoothly – and we’ll also explore whether a senior has the right to refuse discharge from a hospital.

How elderly people’s hospital discharges can vary – and what they have in common

What it’s like to be discharged from hospital can be very different for different people. Here are some of the factors that play a part in hospital discharge planning for elderly patients:

  • Whether their stay was planned or due to an emergency
  • Where they’ll be discharged to, and whether this is the same place they lived in before their hospitalisation
  • How severely ill they were or how frail they are
  • How long they were in hospital
  • What level of additional supports and care they’ll need after discharge
  • Whether they need home modifications to ensure their home remains safe and accessible to them
  • Whether they agree with the hospital’s decisions about discharging them, including the plan for their care after they leave
  • The specific policies of the hospital they’re in

However, there are some factors that should be the same for all discharges.

The hospital’s staff should include an older person in conversations and decisions about their care – that holds true for their entire hospital stay. In particular, the hospital should ensure an elderly person has a voice in their own discharge assessment, which is the decision about how much help they’ll need after they leave hospital.

There are also some basic discharge requirements that any senior leaving hospital will need:

  • A hospital discharge letter, which is either given to the patient or sent to their GP
  • Information about what they should do to care for themself after discharge, including any future medical appointments
  • A home to go to that’s in a good condition, whether that’s their own home, a relative’s home, or a care or nursing home
  • Clothes to wear for the trip home
  • All personal items they brought with them to the hospital
  • Transportation home
  • Any required devices or medication, as well as instructions about how to use them.
  • A sick note for work or insurance
  • Enough food and other supplies at home to ensure the older person doesn’t have to go out shopping right away.

It’s also worth noting that if some aspect of the elderly person’s home caused an accident such as a fall, steps should be taken to reduce the risk of future falls and prepare for them if they do occur. This could include providing clearer lighting, removing loose rugs, installing grab bars in a bathroom, and obtaining a fall detection alarm so that help will be called immediately if a fall does occur.

If an elderly person does not need any more care after their hospital stay, then the above points might cover all their requirements. However, it’s best to check with your hospital to see what their specific policies around discharging patients are, as they might have further details to consider. The NHS guidance on being discharged from hospital might also be helpful.

What about discharge planning for elderly patients with greater care needs? Read on to learn more…

Complex hospital discharges

The UK government identifies three types of more complex hospital discharges where more care is needed after the stay. Put briefly, these options for an older person are:

  • The elderly person returns to a private home or their usual nursing or care home, but with extra or new care added
  • The elderly person goes to a residential setting for short-term recovery, after which they might return to a private home or move to longer-term care
  • The elderly person goes to a nursing or care home for long-term care

If any of these is a possibility, the hospital will design a care plan. This plan will paint a picture of the help an elderly person needs and how they’ll receive it. It should provide plenty of details about what will happen and who to speak to if more information or help is needed. As with the other elements of their hospital stay, the care plan should include the elderly patient’s input.

It's important that a care plan is fully decided on and put into place before the older person leaves hospital, as the hospital only helps with sorting out care while the person is a patient.

If a family member will be taking on an older person’s care duties for 35 hours or more per week, it’s worth considering applying for Carer’s Allowance too.

What if an elderly person disagrees with their discharge assessment or care plan?

If you disagree with any part of your treatment, the decision about your hospital discharge, or the plan for your care after you leave hospital, there are steps you can take.

Firstly, you can simply raise your concerns to staff. If you aren’t satisfied with their response, you can contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) at your hospital. If you need to pursue the issue beyond PALS, you can complain to the NHS.

Can you refuse to be discharged from hospital in the UK?

Unfortunately, patients do not have the right to refuse discharge from hospital. In fact, there are cases in which hospitals have taken patients to court to force them to leave. However, that is an extreme situation and not the norm. Generally, if you do not feel you are ready to be discharged, you should follow the steps above for disagreeing with a hospital’s decision. It may be that the PALS can help you to find a solution.

How SureSafe offers peace of mind for seniors recovering from a hospital stay

After a hospital stay, an older person might be a little more anxious about living independently as they recover. Due to medication side effects or illness, they might also feel confused or have trouble moving around.

That’s why a personal alarm for the elderly from SureSafe can be a great help to older people who have just been discharged from hospital. For seniors who are at risk of falling, a fall detection alarm is a great choice. This type of alarm senses that its wearer has fallen and calls for help all by itself, even if the wearer is unconscious or not able to press a button.

For seniors who are experiencing confusion, dizziness, pain or other difficulties after hospitalisation, a one-touch alarm can also provide reassurance and a sense of safety. It ensures that if an elderly person suddenly feels unwell or needs help, they don’t have to struggle to get to or dial a phone. They can just press one button to call for assistance.

What else can SureSafe’s personal alarms do to help seniors who are recovering after being in hospital? Give us a ring on 0800 112 3201 to chat with us about our variety of alarms and their functionalities. Alternatively, you can reach out to us via live chat or request a call back.

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