Supporting patients’ choices to avoid long hospital stays

NHS trusts across England are rolling out a new policy called ‘Supporting Patients’ Choices to Avoid Long Hospital Stays’. This policy enables health and social care staff to work together to support patients to avoid long hospital stays, i.e. longer than they need to for medical reasons.

Once people no longer need hospital care, it is best to get home or to another community setting as quickly as possible because:

  • Nobody wants to stay in hospital any longer than is necessary
  • Being at home or in a community setting (such as a care home) is the best place to continue recovery once an illness requiring hospital care is over
  • Once people are aged 80 years and over, ten days spent in a hospital bed equates to ten years of muscle wasting
  • Severely ill patients may be unable to access services if hospital beds are occupied with patients who no longer need them

Like other trusts across the country, we currently have too many people who are fit to leave hospital but can’t for a number of reasons. We want to improve this and help patients to avoid these long stays. University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust have been working with health and social care colleagues across Lancashire and South Cumbria to create a local version of the national policy that will help improve patient care and reduce long stays in hospital. 

The local version of the policy will be rolled out across Lancashire and South Cumbria during August 2017.

What will be different?
When patients are admitted to hospital, a member of hospital staff will talk to them and their families and/or carers about what is going to happen, when they are likely to leave hospital, and where they will go at the point. They will also be given an information leaflet and letter with further information. In the majority of cases, this will happen on admission but will be based on the patient’s condition.

How will it affect patients?
If you are admitted to hospital, you will be made aware of how long you are expected to be in hospital at the beginning of your stay so you will be able to plan better with your family and/or carer. 

For most patients, they will return to their own home when they leave hospital but for those with significant health and care needs, they may need further support out of hospital. For these patients, we will work closely with them and their families and/or carers to help them understand their options. 

Whilst we will do everything we can to ensure patients are discharged to their preferred community setting, this may not always be immediately available. In these cases, an alternative option will be explored. Although this may not be ideal for the person concerned, our expert teams will continue to work towards the patient’s preferred choice of accommodation and will endeavour to transfer patients at the earliest opportunity.

This new way of working will help you and your family to make informed decisions about next steps. 

How can I find out more?
More information on Supporting Patients’ Choices to Avoid Long Hospital Stays in Lancashire and South Cumbria can be found below:

If you need any of the leaflets in another format, please contact the UHMBT Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01539 795497 who can arrange that for you.