Two weeks ago, we took a call from a man who was deeply concerned for his grandma. She is deaf, visually impaired and has memory problems.
In August, trying to get into her garden, she had a fall and was admitted to hospital for treatment for a fractured hip. After a month in hospital, she was assessed as fit enough to leave but still in need of support at home. She could no longer manage the stairs and had to live in her living room, with a single bed and commode squeezed in next to her TV. Despite her high level of need she had been sent home from hospital with only a few visits a day from a carer. Very worried about her safety and wellbeing, her grandson picked up the phone and gave us a call.
Sadly this kind of call is all too common. We are hearing from increasing numbers of older people – or their families and friends – who have been discharged from hospital without the care they need in place. Sometimes their needs are not fully provided for and sometimes promised support simply fails to materialise.
Others can find themselves stuck in hospital whilst the right care is put in place. One caller was told her mother was eligible for 6 weeks of free care to help her regain her independence after a long hospital stay. But she was left waiting in hospital for a further week until someone else stopped receiving the service because the council did not have enough carers.
We are all too aware that our NHS and councils are struggling financially and dealing with more and more people needing care. Older people don’t want to stay in hospital any longer than is necessary. In fact, often it is not the best place to recover after an operation or illness. That’s why it is so important that they are supported to leave hospital at the right time, and with the right follow-up care in place.
We’re really concerned about how frequently we are hearing from people who have not received this support, and the hardship this causes. That’s why we’re calling on the Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, to act now to fix hospital discharge practices and ensure no more older people are left unsafe or without the care they need following a stay in hospital.
For our campaign to have an impact we really need your support. You can sign up to campaign with us here and we’ll be in touch shortly to let you know how you can get involved.