Families asked to help get loved-ones home from hospital this Christmas

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People currently in hospital across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, but well enough to leave, need the help and support of their families to get home for Christmas.
That is the message coming from the region’s acute hospitals, where many patients’ discharges are often delayed due to them not having any way of getting home, or their currently living environment not being ready for their return.

Families can help avoid these unnecessary delays by being available for lifts home from hospital, collecting their family member’s prescription, ensuring their home is heated and stocking their cupboard with staple food items.

These simple steps will support the region’s hospitals – the Royal United Hospital in Bath, the Great Western Hospital in Swindon and Salisbury District Hospital – to free up valuable bed space for new patients, many of whom will be in need of urgent or emergency care.

Lisa Cheek, Chief Nurse, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know that hospital is not always the best place for people, and we want to get people back to their own homes as quickly as possible, because recovery is aided by homely surroundings and personal comforts.

“Any delays in discharging patients means we are not able to give a bed to our sickest patients who are waiting to be seen.

“We also know that the next few weeks are a time for celebration and we wouldn’t want any patients to have to stay in hospital for longer than necessary.

“Families, friends and carers are encouraged to be involved in early discussions with our staff around the patient’s recovery, and any ongoing care needs, so that arrangements can be made at the earliest opportunity.”

Gill May, Chief Nurse at Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board said

“Nobody wants to spend longer than they need to in hospital, especially during the Christmas period and recovery for medically-fit patients is often best at home in a more comfortable and familiar setting.

“If you have a loved one in hospital who is well enough to leave, but is waiting to be discharged and you feel you can support their recovery at home, please talk to ward staff about how you can help.”

With Christmas only a few days away, demand on local NHS services, especially those which provide urgent and emergency care, is expected to remain very high.

Supporting patient discharges is just one way in which the public can help support their local NHS at this busy time.

Other practical steps include choosing the correct and appropriate healthcare service when seeking medical help, especially for minor injuries and illness, as attending hospital or calling 999 for a condition that is not life-threatening can prevent others in need of genuine care from being seen.

NHS 111 online can provide quick and effective healthcare advice for everyday health conditions at the touch of a button, and can be accessed easily via any laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Pharmacies can also support people with minor ailments, as most sites have a private consultation room in which pharmacists can carry out an assessment, offer a diagnosis and suggest possible treatment options.

A number of pharmacies in the region can also provide prescription medicine for a small number of common conditions – sore throats, female urine infections, impetigo, dermatitis and conjunctivitis – that would have previously only been available after speaking with a GP.

The full list of participating pharmacies, as well as the Christmas and New Year opening times for all pharmacies in the region, can be found online at www.bswicb.nhs.uk.