Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Church urged to step up when elderly leave hospital

Wed 11 May 2016
By Antony Bushfield

Churches should do more to help elderly people when they leave hospital, a Christian charity has told Premier after a report found many pensioners being discharged are "alone, afraid and unable to cope".

Robin Rolls, National Director of the Outlook Trust, has been responding to a damning new report from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

It says people are being "badly let down by the system" and it highlighted the "harrowing" impact of poorly managed hospital discharges on patients and their families.

The authors say that being discharged from hospital to the comfort of one's own home should come as a relief, but in many cases this "couldn't be further from the truth".


In one case, they looked into a woman in her late 90s who was discharged without being examined properly. Moments after she was dropped home she died in her granddaughter's arms.

Robin Rolls from the Outlook Trust told Premier's News Hour older people leaving hospital care would be "nervous and anxious about fending for themselves".

He said: "They're going to need practical help, help to do the shopping, getting the heating back on and sorting out the post that's come in.

"Some of it is about us as Christian people in our churches and communities looking out for those around us who need our help".

He added: "With people who leave prison we have offenders programmes to reintegrate them back into society but with other people who've done nothing wrong at all we let them fend for themselves and that says to me that something is crucially wrong".

Peter Byrne/PA Wire


The report also highlighted the case of a 85-year-old woman with dementia who was sent home by a hospital at 11pm without her family being informed.

The Ombudsman concluded that many patients are being sent home before they are clinically ready to leave hospital and others may be medically fit to be discharged but may not be practically ready to cope at home.

A spokesman for NHS Improvement said: "Patients should never be discharged from hospital without the appropriate safeguards in place and without families having been informed.

"Better discharge processes, such as those being worked on by NHS Improvement's Emergency Care Improvement Programme to support local health systems to make improvements, will result in vulnerable patients being protected whilst reducing potentially harmful delays in appropriately discharging those who are medically fit.

"Rather than frail elderly people staying in hospital longer than they need to, it is better to get patients home as quickly as possible and to assess them in their own homes rather than in a hospital - but this must be done with the right help and support in place."

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