Getting loved-ones Home for Christmas

by Dr Zaid Hirmiz
Clinical Director, South East Hampshire  
NHS Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group

Hundreds of patients unfortunately need to spend Christmas Day in hospital every year.

Whilst this is the right place for them to be because of their health, it is the last place that most of them want to be. 

We know how important it is for people to be back home at Christmas, particularly after another difficult year, which is why we're doing everything we can to make this happen. It can also help them recover more quickly in comfortable and familiar surroundings. 

It's a real team effort with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and lots of others working together to ensure everyone who is well enough can leave hospital and be home for Christmas. 

And you can help us too. If you share a household or are a carer, close friend or relative to someone you know in hospital, and you are their key point of contact, there are things you can do to help with their discharge from hospital including:

  • staying in contact with the ward they are on so everyone is clear about the expected date of discharge
  • supporting with any necessary arrangements to provide suitable clothing and shoes for the patient and understanding their ongoing medication needs
  • helping with their transport home. If you can help take a relative, friend or neighbour home when they are ready to leave hospital it helps them get home more quickly and it helps the NHS, too. Whilst there is NHS funded transport for some patients, the service is extremely busy at the moment. And it is there to be used only for those who have no alternative or who are going on to another NHS or social care service.

Little things like popping some milk and food in their fridge, turning on the heating in their home and checking for trip/fall hazards like trailing cables and rugs can make a big difference too. 

All these things can help patients leaving hospital get back in their own homes more smoothly and in time to celebrate Christmas. 

And, if you can, and in line with advice and guidance around coronavirus, if you could help by taking family members to hospital for outpatients appointments too that also really helps our transport services at this busy time. 

Remember there's still a range of health help and advice available to you and your loved ones over the Christmas and New Year period should you need it. Follow any advice provided to the patient on discharge first but if you are unsure what to do call the patient's GP surgery or contact NHS 111, online or by phone. 

Some pharmacies will be open during the bank holidays, so take a look here if you think you might need one. 

If you are able to help, thank you from us all, and, for those of you who celebrate it, have a really happy and healthy Christmas.