Safely home: What happens when people leave hospital and care settings

When discharge goes wrong, it comes at significant cost, both to individuals and to the health and social care system.Whilst the financial cost of this problem is recognised, not enough is known about the human cost. Healthwatch undertook this inquiry to bring the true emotional and physical impact of this persisting problem to light.

The report focuses  on the experiences of older people, homeless people, and people with mental health conditions – three groups for whom the consequences of a failed discharge process were particularly detrimental.

There were 5 key findings:

  1. People experience delays and a lack of coordination between different services:  Homeless people, older people and people with mental health conditions told us about problems they experienced as a result of poor coordination between different parts of the health system, and between health services and community support
  2. People feel left without the services and support they need after discharge: People shared numerous examples of being left without the support they needed post-discharge, leaving them in very vulnerable situations and often leading to readmission.
  3. People feel stigmatized and that they are not treated with appropriate respect: We heard how all three groups felt that they experienced stigma and the impact that perceived staff attitudes had on their treatment and interactions.
  4. People don't feel involved in decisions about their care or given the information they need: People felt they were not consulted about their care or discharge needs, and that parents and carers had not been communicated with about their relatives’ conditions and support needs.
  5. People feel that their full range of needs is not considered: People felt frustrated that organisations deal with the problem people present, rather than their full range of needs.