We decided to talk to patients and families to get a more in-depth understanding, from the patient/family/carer viewpoints, of what happens after leaving hospital –
- what support, after-care and ongoing care people receive
- what works well and what could be developed and improved to help reduce re-admissions and potentially reduce people requiring further interventions from health and/or social care services.
A group of our volunteers, joined by a group of the hospital's volunteers, visited patients on the wards at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, looking for some who would be agreeable to us interviewing them once they had been discharged and returned home, to find out what their experience had been.
A total of 68 patients gave consent to be contacted. Subsequently, a total of 37 interviews were undertaken by Healthwatch staff 2-3 weeks after discharge (the remaining 31 people either declined to be interviewed in the end, were not contactable or were unable to take part for various reasons). Some interviews were conducted with patients and some with family or with carers (with patient consent). Interviews were recorded (again with consent) and then transcribed and anonymised. Recordings were then deleted.
What we found from what people told us was that some people's experiences had been good and some had been not so good. The key factors were Communication and preparedness.
Some people said they'd been provided with good information - given to them at the right time; tailored to their needs; in a form they could understand. And some people said that preparations were made in advance of them going home - adaptations made to their home or care services ready and waiting for when they went home.
Others found that the communication had not been so good. And some found that things were not in place to ensure that they would be able to live safely and independently at home.
We've written our findings up in a report - "Going Home" - which includes a summary of the feedback from patients and families who took part in our project. We've also included in our report a number of recommendations for attention and action by services.