How a new toolkit will improve the hospital discharge experience for patients and their family carers
Carers Trust has worked with partners NHS England (London), Mobilise, Carers UK, Carers First and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services in London to produce a toolkit designed to help healthcare professionals work with unpaid family carers to improve the overall experience of hospital discharge – both from the patient’s and the carer’s perspective.
Janet Meehan (Partnerships and Development Manager) and Ramzi Suleiman (Policy and External Affairs Officer) from Carers Trust have worked on development of the toolkit from the start. To mark the toolkit’s public launch, they have written a blog to explain why the toolkit was needed, the teamwork that went into developing it, and why it will be such an important resource for healthcare professionals.
What is the toolkit?
The Carers and Hospital Discharge Toolkit for London Hospitals and Community Providers is a guide for professionals designed to help them navigate through various stages of a carer pathway related to hospital discharge.
Whilst created by partners in London, and for London Hospitals, it can be used by any hospital across the country that recognises the importance of including and supporting carers in the discharge process.
The toolkit will help hospitals identify carers of all ages; welcoming them as a carer and recognising their vital role in care and discharge. It will help hospitals signpost carers for further support, including statutory Carer’s Assessments and help professionals involve carers in discussions and decisions; through to transition - ensuring carers have a seamless experience when moving through services.
The toolkit provides top tips and checklists for each stage of the pathway and provides links to information, resources and good practice that already exists.
What value did Carers Trust add in developing the toolkit?
Carers Trust partners with its network of local carer organisations, many of whom already work with their local commissioners and stakeholders, supporting unpaid carers through the various hospital discharge processes. Together, we are able to facilitate access to the insights, knowledge and experiences on what works well and where there are areas for improvement.
The experiences of Carers Trust’s network of local carer support organisations directly fed into the development of this toolkit either through sharing learning from pilot programmes in local areas or from sharing insights and feedback of running existing programmes.
So what does it take to pull together a toolkit?
The toolkit has been developed through a partnership of NHS England London Team, Carers Trust, Carers UK, ADASS, Mobilise and Carers First.
Our role involves working with our network of local carer organisations across London, Facilitating opportunities for sharing good practice and learning across and with the wider network and brokering links to enable their insights and experience to directly inform national policy. Over the past couple of years in particular we have built good working relationships across the London Network and with the NHS Commitment to Carers Leads in the London region, exploring opportunities to collaborate and to work towards developing London-wide approaches.
This toolkit has been a great example of a London-wide collaborative and co-produced piece of work across many partners and stakeholders. Carers Trust has been involved in; supporting the development of two workshops which explored how pilot and other existing programmes are operating and what difference they have made; collating feedback from workshop attendees on what works well, what’s missing and where there is good practice; commenting on draft versions prior to publication and ensuring dissemination through Network Partners and wider stakeholders.
Whilst aimed at professionals, the toolkit is also useful information for carers who might like to know in advance what might come up in conversation or things they might like to be prepared for and to put in place should they need to go into hospital themselves, or to look after someone else who is going to be discharged from hospital.
Why is the toolkit important?
Discharge is a vital part of the patient journey in hospital. Done well, it can ensure the patient is well supported in the recovery process, hospitals maintain a good “patient flow” and there is no avoidable readmissions later down the line.
We also know that getting discharge rights has gained national attention and is a top priority for NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
By identifying carers of all ages, welcoming carers as part of the care team, supporting carers at hospital and ensuring they have support after, involving carers in care and the discharge process and ensuring a safe transition of care of the person with support needs to the carer, hospitals are more likely to reduce re-admissions and ensure both patient and carer are properly supported.
The toolkit will help hospitals work with carers and carer organisations to ensure a safe, smooth and successful discharge process.