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How the Red Cross is assisting discharges at RBH

Patients leaving hospital in Dorset have been receiving emotional support from the British Red Cross to ease their concerns and get them home quickly and safely.

New Red Cross ‘assisted discharge’ services have launched at both Dorset County Hospital and Royal Bournemouth Hospital to help remove practical barriers to someone getting home. The Red Cross has been running a similar scheme at Poole Hospital since 2012, where two additional staff were recruited to help scale-up support during the winter months while the hospitals remain particularly busy.

Trained support workers help patients after they’ve been told they can leave hospital, driving them home and making sure they are settled in. For example, the team can check that lights and heating are working, that the fridge is cleared and restocked with fresh food and that their care line is working. This helps to address patients’ fears and concerns so people feel safer and more confident when they get back home after a hospital stay.

The support workers will then continue to help for up to 72 hours after the patient has been discharged, making visits or phone calls to check they’re feeling ok and see if they need any extra support. If they do, they could be referred to the Red Cross Support at Home service or the Connecting Community service which offers up to 12 weeks of visits from a volunteer. The Red Cross will also work in partnership with Dorset First Point, a service run by the YOU Trust, to support patients with housing related issues.

The services at Dorset County Hospital and Royal Bournemouth Hospital will initially run for three months. This increased capacity is thanks to funding received from Dorset County Council via Central Government.

John Bizzell, 68, joined the Red Cross assisted discharge team in August after retiring from the local ambulance service. A former emergency medical technician, John is providing additional support at both Poole and Bournemouth hospitals to help get people home.

John said: “I get great satisfaction from helping people, and a sense of achievement. I think it’s a calling, going into this kind of work. It’s about listening to someone and understanding what’s important to them.

“I see this as a continuation of what I did before. My work with the ambulance service was often dealing with life-threatening situations. But now I get the same sense of satisfaction – even a small thing can make a big difference to someone.

“Sometimes older people can be worried about coming out of hospital and it might be a little thing that helps, like ringing a neighbour or family member so you can leave them with someone they know. Even putting the bins out or arranging rubbish collections can make a big difference. No job is too big or too small.”

The difference made through simple, kind acts cannot be underestimated. Listening to someone’s concerns as they prepare to leave hospital, helping them get the shopping in when they get home – simple things which empower people to take their first steps on the road back to independence.

Val Horn, Discharge Services Manager at The Royal Bournemouth Hospital said: “Older patients who might not feel great may think their only course of action is to ring 999 and then be admitted to hospital. A service of this calibre demonstrates that it can avoid those admissions, or often readmissions, and that it supports the elderly to feel happy and independent in their homes.

“The Red Cross service has been very successful at Poole Hospital for a number of years now and I think that working with a third-party organisation such as the Red Cross offers something new for the Trust. A longer-term voluntary support service was put in place for patients at Poole Hospital when the Assisted Discharge service finishes, and we anticipate the same service will also be set up here at RBH. The benefit for the Trust is readmissions can be avoided within a short period of time. And the outcomes for the patient are fantastic."

Fiona Pearson, Service Manager at the Red Cross said: “We’ve been able to hit the ground running with the implementation of the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Dorset County Hospital assisted discharge services because we have been running a similar scheme from Poole Hospital for many years. We are delighted that the Red Cross are now supporting the NHS in all acute hospitals across Dorset.

“This extra funding means that we can help even more people across the county to regain their independence and reduce the need for people to be readmitted to hospital. It also means we can help free up beds at the hospitals taking some of the pressure off our NHS colleagues.”

L-R: Stuart Boyles-Red Cross Discharge Co-ordinator, Val Horn-RBCH Discharge Serices Manager, Sandy Lynn-RBCH Clincial Lead Physiotherapist


L-R: Stuart Boyles: Red Cross Discharge Co-ordinator,Val Horn: RBCH Discharge Services Manager, Sandy Lynn: RBCH Clinical Lead Physiotherapist


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