Wendy Grainger aged 84 lives on her own in Worthing West Sussex. Following a hip operation in a local private hospital, her niece who lives in Birmingham, contacted Relative Matters seeking help to arrange her aunt’s discharge home from hospital.
If your elderly relative chooses an independent or private hospital, it is important that you both think seriously about the services that are available before and after your relative’s discharge from hospital. This is because, unlike NHS hospitals, private and independent hospitals do not have a duty to inform Social Services if your relative needs support when they leave hospital or to arrange healthcare services for them.
When I visited Wendy in hospital, she was adamant that she wanted to go home. However hospital staff did not think it would be safe for her to return home to live on her own. I suggested that she go into a nursing home for convalescence and said I would arrange physiotherapy while she was there with the goal of helping her to return home. Following a great deal of persuasion I gave her information about a couple of nursing homes and left her with to think about it overnight, realising that to push her too much would have the opposite effect to what hospital staff and I wanted. The following morning Wendy agreed and I arranged transport for her transfer to the nursing home.
Ten days and several physiotherapy sessions later, Wendy was ready to return home. I liaised with her GP, the district nurses,meals on wheels service, pharmacist and her niece. I also obtained a list of the shopping she wanted and arranged for it to be delivered on the day she returned home. I also arranged transport and at Wendy’s request, escorted her home and settled her back in.
Wendy is fiercely independent and refused my attempts to arrange a support package for her. While I felt this decision was unwise, Wendy did not lack the mental capacity to make her own decisions, which includes being allowed to make her own mistakes.
Wendy was one of the clients who informed our decision to develop a Hospital to Home Service for older people, to meet a gap in services for people who do not receive funding or support from Social Services.