Going into hospital
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None of us wants to go into hospital but there are times when we have little choice. Sometimes we know in advance that we will be going into hospital, and sometimes have to go there as an emergency.
On this page we look at what you can expect if you do have to go into hospital, and suggest ways in which you can prepare yourself for a planned admission.
Sometimes you will know in advance that you are going into hospital, and that it is likely you'll need support with certain things when you go home again. This is particularly the case if you are having a planned operation, such as a hip replacement.
It is worth thinking about what you will need to do before you go into hospital
Who will hold the fort whilst you are away?
Think about who will look after any pets, check your property, and pick up your post whilst you are away.
If no-one you know will be able to do this for you then your local council may be able to help in the "Looking after your home whilst you are in hospital" section below.
Will you need some extra help when you get home?
If you are likely to need help with tasks such as shopping and cooking, or washing and dressing yourself when you go home, then think about whether there are any relatives or friends who could help.
You can also have a look at our Staying in your own home section for other ideas on how you can get the support you need.
Depending on your situation, you may be referred for an assessment from the hospital social work team whilst you are in hospital to see whether you are eligible for support from your local council (see below for more details).
Do you look after someone else?
If you look after another person, then think about who will be able to take over this role whilst you are away, and how much you will be able to do when you come home.
Remember that you and the person you look after may be entitled to support from your local council - there is no need for you to delay or cancel your medical treatment in order to look after someone else.
Go to our section on Looking after someone for details on how to get the extra help you need.
When you arrive in hospital, professionals in charge of your care will develop a plan for both your medical treatment, and for any support which you might need once your treatment is finished. This can include plans for your discharge home, or for your transfer to another support service.
When your discharge or transfer takes place will be affected by:
- how quickly your health improves while you are in hospital
- what support you will need after you return home
If you are likely to need further care and support when you go home then the hospital staff will make a referral to the hospital social work team who are employed by your local council. Before they do this they should ask for your consent.
If you think that you will need care and support at home, and the hospital staff have not yet referred you to the social work team, then ask them about this - they won't mind being reminded.
The social work team will contact you or your carer (if you have one) as soon as possible before you are due to go home. They will carry out an assessment for anyone who appears to need further support at home. They will ask hospital professionals for their views and will set up any necessary support you require at home before your discharge.
The kind of support which you might receive, depending on your situation, can include:-
- Practical support with tasks such as shopping or cooking, or help with personal care tasks such as washing, dressing and going to the toilet
- Help to improve your practical skills and build your confidence on returning home
- Provision of equipment or gadgets which will make you safer and more independent in your home
- Planning for changes to your home which will make it more suitable to your changing needs
- Planning for a move to alternative accommodation if this seems necessary
- Support in getting out and about once you get home
- Support for a relative or friend who is providing significant support to you
- Advice on money matters, and on making sure that you get all of the benefits to which you are entitled
Go to our page on Requesting an assessment for more information on how the assessment process works, and on what to expect once the assessment is completed.
Your council has a legal duty to ensure that your home and property are secure if you are not there, and there is no-one else available to keep an eye on things.
Who is entitled to the Protection of Property service?
You may be entitled to this service if:
- you have been admitted to hospital
- you have moved into a care home, and arrangements for your previous home still need to be sorted out
- moved to any other place under an order made under Section (3) of Section 47 National Assistance Act 1948.
The protection of your property is carried out by the council's Client Affairs Team.
Accessing the service
Referrals for the Protection of Property service can be made by a social worker or other members of council staff.
If you are concerned about arrangements for your property or the property of someone you know, and it is not clear that the appropriate steps to protect the property have been taken, then contact your council's Adult Social Care team.
How does the service work?
Where it appears that there is property to be safeguarded and no suitable arrangements have been made by the person themselves or by a relative, friend or other responsible person then the Client Affairs team searches the premises.
They take the following steps:
- safeguard items of financial value
- secure the premises
- compile an inventory of items in the property
- arrange storage or disposal of items where appropriate
- dispose of all perishable foods
- make arrangements for any pets to be boarded (where there is no relative or friend to care for the pet)
- take photographs of the dwelling
If the person will be away from the property for a long period then the team will regularly visit the premises to remove any mail and make arrangements for mail to be forwarded on.
When you leave hospital you will be given a discharge summary and a copy will be sent to your GP, providing information about your treatment and future care needs.
If you require medical support following discharge home, this will be explained and details of the services will be given to you before you are discharged.
The Patient Liaison Advice Service (PALS) are based in hospitals and offer confidential advice, information and support for patients and their relatives and friends. They can help you sort out any concerns or queries you may have about the care and treatment you receive, and guide you through the different services available from the NHS or other organisations.
Find out more about the local PALS services:-
The NHS website provides more detailed information on what happens when you go into hospital.
Age UK offer advice on care after leaving hospital.
For more information on hospital care for people with mental health problems go to our Mental health care in hospital page.