The British Red Cross ‘assisted discharge’ service aims to ease the pressure on hospital services over the busy winter months, and offers extra support to people who might struggle to cope with the transition back to home life.
The service, based at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, launched on Monday (December 17), providing increased capacity to support people and covering the whole of Sussex, thanks to new funding from the East Surrey and Sussex Sustainable Transformation Partnership.
Under the scheme, the Red Cross team meets patients as they are leaving hospital and takes them home, making sure that things are comfortable there. They can check that lights and heating are working and that the fridge is cleared and restocked, for example.
They offer two follow-up home visits, helping with practical tasks or just offering companionship, and they can also help people build more links in their communities, or find out about other organisations who can help.
One benefit of the service is that it helps to reduce the need for people to be readmitted to hospital, the Red Cross said.
“We are delighted to be asked to help.” says Kate Drake, Red Cross independent living operations manager for the South East. “We want to be able to make a difference to all those people coming out of hospital during the cold, dark winter months, and returning to empty homes.
“It can be such an anxious time, and it makes a huge difference to them to have someone who can make sure things are running smoothly, check they have food and fluids, or just have a regular chat about how things are going.
“This funding means that we can help take people home to East and West Sussex and to Brighton & Hove, which is great news. We work so well alongside the hospital team and we’re really looking forward to carrying on that partnership.”
Donna Symons, a nursing sister in the Royal Sussex County Hospital’s discharge unit, said: “When we say goodbye to vulnerable patients, it’s great to know that they will have a bit of support with that transition back to home. Having the team here to bring vulnerable patients home to meet relatives and carers reassures the nursing staff that their patients are in good hands.”
Katy Jackson, director of urgent care and systems resilience for Central Sussex and East Surrey Commissioning Alliance-South, said: “We are committed to supporting vulnerable patients so they can get settled at home when they leave hospital, making the discharge process easier and freeing up hospital beds for those in the most need.
“Winter is set to be extremely difficult for the NHS across the country, especially on A&E departments and local hospitals as they cope with the annual rise in numbers of people seeking treatment. This pilot is part of several activities we are funding and undertaking across the local health care system this winter, easing pressure on our local hospitals.”
To find out more about the Red Cross, visit: redcross.org.uk