Going Home Alone from Hospital - Let's End it!

No-one should be going home alone after a stay in hospital least of all the elderly.  Support the Royal Voluntary Service Campaign to end it.

Imagine being elderly, frail and alone in a hospital bed.  You're longing to go home,  the hospital needs the bed and is saying you can go home but there's no-one at home to help you.

It could be for a number of reasons that someone is faced with going home alone.

Families aren't always available or near enough to help and yes unfortunately there are too many families that simply don't want to take responsibility for their elderly relatives.  A sad indictment of our times.

A UK hospital is threatening to to take legal action to evict elderly patients who are 'bed blocking.

They claim that relatives are failing to take responsibility for the care of their loved ones.

Desperate measures in desperate times.

Our Health Service is in crisis because they simply don't have the resources necessary to cope with an ageing population and it will continue to get worse unless something is done. 

Research shows that those who are discharged from hospital to go home alone risk being re-admitted to hospital within three months putting further unnecessary strain on resources.

Click here to see the facts at a glance of an elderly patient going home alone

My Mum's experience!

I remember a time when my Mum (aged 82) was admitted to hospital after an Angina attack.   It turned out to be not as serious as first thought but they suggested she stay overnight to be monitored.

There was a shortage of beds that night so the Hospital re-assessed mum and decided she could be discharged.  They arranged for her to be driven home at 2.00 a.m. in the morning in her nightie and dressing gown by a local taxi firm.

She lived 15 miles away from the hospital.  She was dropped off at the door of her apartment block in her slippers with her bag of belongings. 

Her flat was on the second floor at the end of a long corridor.  She told me later that she didn't know how she made it back to her flat on her own.

The Hospital didn't contact me otherwise I would have gone to pick her up myself whatever the time.  No way would I leave my Mum to end up going home alone.

Mum didn't want to ring me because she was worried I had to go to work in the morning so she ended up having to let herself in at that time of the morning all alone with no-one there to even make her a cup of tea.

That wasn't about her having no support network that was about the Hospital failing to take responsibility for making sure that a patient was returned home safely.
No Hospital should be sending any patient home alone in the middle of the night,  and certainly not an elderly patient without assessing what help and support they will have access to, and what they will actually need in those first few days.

How the Royal Voluntary Service can help!

Some of the things that are important to an elderly patient leaving hospital are simple little things that any good neighbour or friend could do but not everyone has a good neighbour or friend.

The Government is calling for more home care support to ease the transition from hospital to home and full recovery and the Royal Voluntary Service is promoting a campaign to get more volunteers on board to help.

An RVS Volunteer

  • Can make sure the patient arrives home safely after a stay in hospital.
  • Can put the heating on to make sure the house is warm and welcoming.
  • Can do a little shopping to make sure there’s a supply of basic food in the home like bread and milk.
  • Can check up on them regularly supporting them  for the next six weeks which would help get people back on their feet.
  • Can provide a lift to medical appointments or even social clubs which could help them gain confidence integrating back into the community.

The difference in not going home alone!

An elderly  friend of mine recently had a short stay in hospital following a fall where she broke her hip.   Fortunately the break didn't necessitate a hip replacement.  Instead the Surgeon was able to insert a metal plate and pin into the hip which meant her recovery time was much shorter.

My friend was only in hospital three weeks before she was discharged back home.   Although she lives on her own she is fortunate to have a large family network and a Church network to ensure she has plenty of help and visitors. 

The lady in the next bed similar age to her having had a similar procedure wasn't so lucky.   Unfortunately she didn't have family or friends that could help.   She wasn't making the recovery that they hoped for and she was not going to be able to go back home as she was.  She was extremely upset at the idea she may have to go into a Nursing Home.

Perhaps if some kind of care plan could have been put in place to support her back home things could have been so different.  But who is going to take responsibility to organise that.

The RVS provide a range of services to people that need help.  Go over to the site and see how you could support their campaign to stop going home alone.    Perhaps you could provide a few hours help a week yourself by becoming a Volunteer.

One day it could be us walking in their shoes.  Let's end it now.

Go to the Royal Voluntary Service website and see how you can support the campaign.

Other Articles about Caring for Someone

Home Page

Top of the Page