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Hospital Discharge: Discharge Planning From Hospital To Home

Hospital Discharge solicitors explain how to organise a safe discharge from hospital to home

Hospital Discharge Planning Legislation & Law

After a stay in hospital, being discharged can be a worrying time for patients and their families. Sometimes, patients feel ready and able to return to live at home. When a person’s health has deteriorated since they were last living at home, they may feel unsure or even afraid to return.

It may be useful to refer to our list of Abbreviations Used in Community Care Law and Abbreviations Used in SEN and Disability Law.

Discharge Destination – what are your options?

Before being discharged, there are a number of assessments and discussions that hospital staff must undertake with a patient in order to ensure that they are not only medically fit for discharge, but that they can be safely discharged. Patients should be made aware of all the different options available to them. A person cannot always be discharged back into their own home. Sometimes other locations are identified as being safer – after a stroke or a fall, the patient may benefit from time in a rehabilitation unit. Other patients may benefit from a “re-ablement” package or intermediate care, such as a temporary placement in a care or nursing home. Patients can feel pressurised into accepting an option they do not want so it is important to know your rights.

What about “promoting independence” and patient choice?

People can be supported to live independently after a hospital stay, although they are not always made aware of the different options for achieving this. If a patient wants to return home but is told that this is not safe, then they should be given further information about this, particularly if they would be at risk of harm. Decisions should not be made without particular steps being followed, otherwise the discharge may be unlawful.

Why does it sometimes go wrong?

There are occasions when people are effectively forced into a placement that they do not want to go to – very often due to the cost implications for the authorities. At a time of great vulnerability, patients can feel deprived of their dignity and independence.

If discharge is delayed when somebody is medically fit, this may amount to a deprivation of liberty and/or an unlawful detention. There may also be safeguarding implications.

If you are affected by any of these issues, one of our community care lawyers may be able to assist you. Call us today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk to find out how we can help you.

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