We spoke to service users, carers and their families by conducting a survey and focus groups. Our focus groups consisted of BAME patients and patients with a head injury. We also felt it was important to speak to staff members within our local hospital.
Throughout this process Healthwatch Darlington has listened to the patients, carers and staff to ensure we have captured their thoughts and feelings around the discharge process.
The following key themes emerged throughout this piece of work:
- The same frustrations from all parties seems to run clear throughout the report particularly around the lack of rehabilitation beds that are available in the town.
- A strong theme for patients and carers has been highlighted who feel a lack of communication through information sharing is a problem. Many carers feel left out of the process and wish to be more involved. With this is mind Healthwatch Darlington thoroughly checked the local Trust’s discharge policy which only mentions carers briefly. The ‘your ticket home’ features no mention of carers throughout the document. We are aware the policy was due for a review March 2019, but we have not seen this.
- The report highlights some inconsistencies with some patients reporting a timely discharge, lots of post discharge information and effective referrals, whereas others report a somewhat negative experience in comparison and feel completely abandoned once safely home.
Healthwatch Darlington would like to thank County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation NHS Trust for their contribution and insight into this report. Our volunteers really enjoyed visiting the hospital wards and finding out more about the role of a discharge coordinator/nurse. We would also like to thank all of our health connector volunteers for their time and energy.