Understanding patient and family/friend carer experience of rapid COVID-19 hospital discharge

August 19, 2021

Healthwatch in Sussex help improve the process of being discharged from hospital, and the support you receive at home.


Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant patients are being discharged from hospital more rapidly. The Sussex NHS Commissioners’ Public Involvement team and Healthwatch in Sussex (East, West and Brighton & Hove) wanted to understand the patients (and family carers) experience of being discharged from hospital, and the impact of this on the patient’s future care at home.

What we heard

Healthwatch in Sussex spoke to 45 people who have recently been discharged from hospital (or their family carers), and we heard:

  • Half of the participants did not discuss a plan for leaving hospital before they arrived on a ward
  • Only three people reported not feeling ready to be discharged, but others expressed feeling rushed and unprepared for ‘coping’ at home, particularly those living alone
  • Two-thirds of people were offered transport to leave hospital, with only a couple of people reporting that they were not asked how they would get home
  • Most did not get a follow-up telephone call or visit to see how they were after their hospital stay, which is something the Government has now recognised as being very important.

Our recommendations for improvement

Based on the insight we heard, we have made several recommendations to the hospital Trusts:

  • As the ‘Let’s Get You Home’ leaflets had the wrong information (so were rightly not given to people), alternative information is urgently needed, including alternative formats if required.
  • Sussex Health and Care Partnership should co-design a standard discharge checklist which includes:
    • Making sure people (and family carers) are taking part in planning conversations
    • Enabling people to reflect and ask questions at different stages of their hospital stay, recognising not all patients are able to understand and recall what has been said on day one
    • Making reaffirming ‘count down’ to leaving hospital everyone’s business (from the consultants to the housekeeping staff).

This project is part of a wider funded programme between Sussex NHS Commissioners and local Healthwatch in Sussex, known as the ROAR programme.

The invaluable insight we have received through this project will influence hospitals’ discharge processes so that patients, their family carers, and hospital staff can follow a jointly planned and well-communicated process for leaving hospital.

Read the report

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