Getting patients home for lunch

A drive to get people who are ready to leave hospital home in time for lunch is proving beneficial for patients and the local health system.

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) has recently renewed a drive to get patients home from hospital in time for lunch and it’s showing great results. 53% of patients who left CPFT inpatient wards in February did so before lunch, compared to a national target of 33%. The number of patients leaving before lunch has been steadily increasing and remained above the national target since July 2016.  

Ward staff are working with teams in the community, partner organisations, patients and their families to get patients home as soon as it is safe to do so with the right support in place. Leaving hospital early in the day has many benefits, as Andrea Hendren, Cockermouth Hospital Ward Sister, explained:

“No one wants to be in hospital any longer than necessary. Getting patients home for lunch means that they have the afternoon to get settled in. It’s safer and more convenient for them and their family than leaving later in the day when it could be dark. It means that shops and pharmacies are still open and they have time to deal with any issues that come up before the evening.”    

Services such as Adult Social Care, provided by Cumbria County Council, who work with patients when they leave hospital have also noticed benefits. Natalie Bell, Social Worker, said:

“Families usually want to be around when their loved ones return home and lunch breaks are often a convenient time for this. If issues arise when a patient returns home we can quickly follow these up with their GP or another health professional on the same day, saving the patient unnecessary worry.”

This initiative also means that beds are free for other patients who have been admitted to hospital. Caroline Evans, Associate Director for Operations for Community North, added:

“By getting people home in time for lunch we can make sure that patients who are going home will be safer as they are home earlier in  the day and the beds are free  for other patients who need them, reducing waiting time in other areas such as Accident and Emergency Departments. I’d like to thank all staff involved whose hard work has helped us to achieve such great results. We will continue working closely with patients, their families and our partners to increase the number of patients who make it home for lunch.”

Staying in hospital longer than necessary is not in the patient’s best interests. As soon as they arrive on a ward a care plan is developed with them which can include an expected date for discharge and a support plan based on their individual needs. Families and carers can play a big role in this as Christine Stewart, Patient Flow Co-ordinator, explains:

“There’s lots that families and carers can do to help get their loved ones home from hospital. Little things like doing a food shop, turning the heating on and arranging transport and clothes to leave the hospital can all make a big difference. Getting involved in conversations about their relative’s care at an early stage can help make the return home go smoothly.” 

Find out more about leaving hospital.

Further details can be found on the NHS Choices website.