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Families urged to help free up beds by supporting relatives to go home

a picture of Dr Rhodri Edwards

Families of patients waiting to be discharged from hospital are being urged to do all they can to support them to go home as quickly as possible.

This is not only to help free up beds, but to ensure patients ready to leave are kept safe and given the best chance to recover.

Nearly 280 patients in Swansea Bay hospitals are currently medically well enough to leave - but for a number of reasons they can’t go.

That’s the equivalent of 10 wards – or a hospital the size of Singleton – currently unavailable to waiting sick patients.

Often the delay is because patients are waiting for care packages or re-ablement support to be arranged, meaning they stay in hospital days or weeks longer than clinically necessary.

But in some cases patients’ families may be in a position to offer short-term bridging support to help them go home sooner rather than later.

This will help release beds earlier for the sick patients who need them, and keep the patients who are well enough to go, safer.

That’s because they are less likely to pick up an infection if they are no longer alongside sick patients. Returning to familiar surroundings offers more opportunities to move around, strengthen their muscles, and regain their confidence. And being back in their own bed gives recovering patients the best chance to sleep well and get better.

“We are asking families to get together and work out if they are in a position to help their relative to go home earlier,” said Swansea Bay UHB Clinical Chair for Medicine, Dr Rhodri Edwards.

“It would be really helpful if they could find ways to provide some temporary support for a short period, just while the care or re-ablement packages are being organised.

“This will not only be a great help to the NHS by helping us free up more beds for sick patients who are waiting for them, but it will substantially benefit their relative.

“Hospital really isn’t the best place for someone who no longer needs acute care.

“There is a real risk to patients staying on in an acute hospital bed that they will catch an infection from sick patients.

“Or they can become deconditioned - begin to lose strength and ability – by not being up and about enough.

“Prolonged hospital stays often lead to loss of muscle mass and other side effects like constipation and falls, so the sooner a patient is home the better.”

Like health boards and NHS trusts across the UK, Swansea Bay UHB is under extreme pressure, with high numbers of very poorly patients.

The public can assist the NHS by using health services thoughtfully.

Avoid coming to our Emergency Department unless you have a serious illness or injury. Please consider alternative ways to get help.

For minor injuries, please try the Minor Injury Unit (MIU) at Neath Port Talbot Hospital. Go here for more about the MIU and the range of injuries it can treat.

But note that the MIU CANNOT treat serious injuries or illness.

You can also try the NHS Wales 111 online symptom-checker for advice. Go here for 111 NHS Wales self assessments online. 

You can also ring NHS Wales 111 for advice, but lines can be busy, so if possible please visit the webpage above as a first option before calling.

Your local pharmacy can also offer FREE over-the-counter treatments for a wide range of common ailments, once you register with them. They can also offer a limited number of prescription medicines without you needing to go to your GP. Go here for more information about the Common Ailment Scheme. 

Some Swansea Bay pharmacies also offer a sore throat test and treat service. Go here for more information about the sore throat scheme.

If you need mental health support, you can ring 111 and choose Option 2 to get through to a team of mental health practitioners.

 

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