Specialist community care lawyers in Sussex and Surrey answer the most frequently asked questions about being discharged from hospital.
You may wish to read our list of Abbreviations Used in Community Care Law to help understand some of the language health and social care staff use.
Social Work teams should be there to ensure a safe discharge takes place by completing or coordinating all the necessary assessments and care plans. They may also make decisions about funding and the options available – such decisions must be lawful and are often open to challenge.
Sometimes a temporary placement is a good opportunity for further assessments to be carried out away from the acute hospital setting. However, if an interim placement is accepted, you can argue that your father should not be charged for this.
If your mother has mental capacity to decide where she lives, the choice is essentially hers – however, there may be a challenge with social services to get safe care in place at home. If she lacks capacity on this issue, it is more complicated. In either case there are a range of assessments that should be undertaken by Health and Social Services to consider both her care needs and funding options. It is paramount that your mother’s best interests remain at the centre of any decision-making.
Tell the hospital you want to attend all assessments – they do not normally have a problem with this. If your father has mental capacity to give consent to you being his representative, then he can do so if necessary. Consider whether your father may need to make Lasting Powers of Attorney to prevent any issues in future should he lose mental capacity. If your father has already lost mental capacity to consent to you representing him, this will need to be delayed on a Best Interest basis while you consider longer term options – seek advice.
No – this is an incorrect approach by the NHS. However, it can take weeks for the full NHS CHC assessment process to be concluded; and because of this you or your mother may feel that it is better for your mother to get out of hospital and to have the NHS CHC assessments later – at home or in a care home. If your mother is going into temporary care at a nursing home she can be assessed there.
Even if the NHS CHC assessment process has been delayed, the rules about safe discharge from hospital require Health & Social Services to make sure that she has a safe package of care (even if who funds that has not yet been determined).
Do not be pressured into moving your relative or agreeing that they be moved until the proper assessment process has taken place. Do not be pressured into signing anything. The duty of Health & Social Services is to ensure that your relative has a safe hospital discharge, which normally includes setting up a care package at home or in a care home. If they have a shortage of beds available then that is a problem for them, not for you or your relative.
Be aware that communication about hospital discharge can be very poor.
Don’t be pressured into a quick discharge from hospital.
No one who needs any kind of ongoing care should be discharged from hospital without a proper assessment of their needs and without an appropriate l package of care in place. There needs to be a placement available as soon as they are discharged. There should be no gap in care.