During the pandemic changes were made with the aim of discharging patients at an earlier stage and supporting home-based care arrangements. Carers are often involved in supporting people once they are home, and there was a need to understand how involved carers are in the discharge process and arrangements due to their important role in a patient’s recovery. Carers play a key role in helping people get better, they know a lot about the person being cared for and what can help them recover. They see things that staff cannot see and can respond to emergencies to get help quicker. Improvements to involve and support carers should lead to better discharges and save time and resources for all involved. NHS England (NHSE) approached us and other Healthwatch to undertake local research as part of a national study.
What we did
We interviewed 10 carers between 8th December 2021 and 22nd February 2022. We then reported the findings to local staff across organisations who work on supporting hospital discharges in March 2022. Findings across the Healthwatch were compared to compile a national report on the issues or areas that could improve hospital discharge for carers and patients. Locally we will be following up the findings with organisations operating in Wandsworth.
Key findings and recommendations
There were carers who had varying experiences, some positive and some identifying issues or room for improvement. We identified themes to focus on to ensure a positive experience for carers and improved hospital discharge processes. These included:
- Identification of carers and their caring role
- Communication and information
- Timing of discharges
- Assessment of carer/caring need post discharge
Read our report for more about what was important to get right to improve hospital discharges.
What happens next
We have reported our findings to NHS England, who are collating the results nationally and will be reporting soon. They have said their next steps to bring improvements include:
Support for carers currently in Wandsworth:
If you help someone in Wandsworth with their day to day living. One key place to look for advice and support is Wandsworth Carers' Centre. They can signpost you to many other sources of support that you might need.
You can also speak to the council or the Carers' Centre about an assessment.
Helping someone else, our own health and wellbeing can take second priority, but we would encourage everyone to make sure they think about maintaining your own wellbeing to help you and the person you care for. You can speak to your GP and they will give you longer appointments if you are a carer. It is also worth considering how to maintain mental health wellbeing and the Carers Centre and Talk Wandsworth could help.