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Preparing to leave

The hospital should tell you who is arranging your discharge and, if possible, the probable date you will leave. A discharge co-ordinator and hospital social worker are likely to be involved if you’ll need support when you leave.

Assessing your needs

You should have a care needs assessment from health and social care professionals to decide what help you may need on leaving hospital.

The person carrying it out should look at your health and social needs, as well as the emotional and social side of your life. You may need help with things like personal care or preparing and eating meals, as well as NHS support from a nurse or physiotherapist, for example.

If you need a lot of help when you leave hospital, it may seem like you’ll need a permanent place in a care home. However, before reaching this decision, staff should consider whether any other help might allow you to continue living in your own home.

You should be given a written care plan showing what help you’ll get. If you’re not happy with it, talk to the person responsible for your discharge. If you’re still not happy, make a complaint .

If you have a carer, they are also entitled to a separate care assessment .

Intermediate care and reablement services

Intermediate care and reablement services help you regain your independence and confidence after an illness or injury, and stay living at home.

Intermediate care can last for up to six weeks and is delivered free of charge. You can receive it at home, in hospital or in a care home. Services may include nursing or personal case at home or physiotherapy. When intermediate care finishes, you should have an assessment to see whether you need any ongoing care or health services.

Reablement services are normally provided in your own home for a fixed period and aim to support you in doing as much as you can by yourself. They are provided free of charge for up to six weeks, after which you should be reassessed to see whether you need any longer term support at home.

See our free factsheet Intermediate care and re-ablement for more information.

If you only need a little help at home

You may only need help with domestic tasks for a few weeks while you recover, particularly if you live alone. The person responsible for your discharge should look at what you need and suggest local organisations that can help.

Your local Age UK and other voluntary organisations may offer ‘home from hospital support’. These services may help to get your home ready for your return and assist with non-medical tasks such as shopping and light housework.

Practical issues when leaving hospital

You shouldn’t be sent home from hospital until support is in place, services are ready to start, any adaptations have been made and any appropriate equipment has been delivered.

The person responsible for your discharge should ensure that:

  • you have clothes to go home in and front door keys
  • you have enough money for short-term needs
  • there is someone collecting you, or a taxi or hospital transport is booked
  • you and/or your carer understand any new medications you’ve been given and you have a supply to take home
  • you and/or your carer can use any new equipment aids with confidence
  • if you need incontinence products, a supply has been arranged
  • your GP has been informed of your discharge, and any help you need from a district nurse has been arranged
  • you know who to contact about your care plans or services.

To find out more information about the help you can receive and the associated costs see:

>> Care homes information guide

>> Advice for carers information guide

>> How to get care and support factsheet

>> NHS continuing healthcare and NHS-funded nursing care factsheet

>> Finding help at home factsheet

>> Finding, choosing and funding a care home factsheet.

Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174

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