When someone you care for is in hospital, you may not know how you will cope with their needs when they come out. You may even be preparing to take on a caring role for the first time.

Below we have put together some information to help you prepare for when they come home.

What happens when the person I care for comes out of hospital?

It can be a worrying and uncertain time when someone you are caring for – or close to – is in hospital and you may wonder what will happen when they leave the hospital. You might be considering looking after them for the first time. Or you might be feeling concerned that the needs of the person you’re already caring for will be greater, increasing their dependency on you.

It is your choice whether or not you decide to take on a caring role and it’s vital to think about how this will affect your life and wellbeing. If you feel able to offer some help, consider what type and level of support you’re able to provide – for example perhaps you would like to provide some help with transportation but would need assistance to deal with personal care.

Find out more about the personalised care at home packages available from Crossroads.

Should there be a discharge plan?

Each hospital will have its own discharge policy. You can ask for a copy from the ward manager or Patient Advice and Liaison Service.

Planning for the person’s discharge should take place as soon as they are admitted to hospital. It is important to notify the hospital at the earliest stage possible if you are their carer – or are planning to care for them in the future – so that the relevant healthcare team can make sure you are involved in the process and in any plans around their continuing care after leaving the hospital.

You can be fully involved as long as the person concerned is happy for you to be. If on the other hand, they do not want you to be involved, you should be notified of this early on. If consent is given, the healthcare team should be willing to work with you and hear your views and concerns to make sure appropriate support for the person you’ll be looking after will be put in place before they leave the hospital.

What should happen before the person I care for is discharged?

The following should take place:

  • A medical assessment – to make sure they are medically fit for discharge
  • A written care and support plan – produced for the person in the hospital, outlining how their support will be provided. You may also receive a support plan if you’ve had a carer’s assessment.

The support outlined in these support plans should be put in place as soon as possible.

What should happen on the day they leave the hospital?

You should be notified both verbally and in writing of the future care services needed for their wellbeing as well as the relevant information about their future treatment and care.

You can ask for this to be given in a format that’s accessible for you or for any points you are not clear on to be explained.

Is there anything else to consider?

Benefit claims

It is important to notify the relevant benefit office that the person you care for is going or has gone into hospital, as this may affect their benefits as well as your own.

If the person you care for was 18+ when they went into hospital then some benefits such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Adult Disability Payment, Child Disability Payment, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Attendance Allowance will stop if the person you care for has been in hospital for more than 28 days.

Stays in a hospital or a care home which are separated by 28 days or less are added together when working out when the benefit should stop (called the ‘linking rules’).

If the person you care for was under 18 when they went into hospital, their DLA or PIP can continue to be paid for the whole time they are there.

If the Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance of the person you care for stops, your Carer’s Allowance will also stop.

When the person you care for is ready to be discharged, inform the office dealing with the particular benefit to make sure that payments restart. The person you care for may also be eligible for benefits at an increased rate if their care needs have changed.

Help at work

If you are in paid employment, you may need to make some adjustments if the person you care for goes into hospital and/or when they come out of hospital. This could be anything from needing to make regular phone calls to check on them, to taking off an extended period of leave.

What happens if I need to go to the hospital myself?

If you need to go into a hospital for a period of time, it may be necessary to make arrangements for the person(s) you care for to make sure they continue to be looked after whilst you’re away.

We would recommend setting up an emergency plan (contingency plan ) so that you or your family or friends don’t have to worry about arranging cover at a stressful time. If you have to go into hospital very suddenly and the person you care for will not be able to manage without you, you will need to contact social care for an urgent needs assessment for the person you are caring for.

Local hospital’s discharge information

Sandwell & West Birmingham NHS Trust

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust

Dudley Group NHS Trust