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Hospital 'check out' service frees up beds

Image shows five staff members stood around an empty bed in a cubicle in the Discharge Lounge.

Main image: (left to right) Katie Morgan, lead clinical site matron, Rebecca Davies, senior matron Emergency Care and Hospital Operations, Natalie Gull, Jerry Hughes and Ray Perkins, healthcare support workers.


If you’ve ever had to check out of a hotel room long before your flight home, you may have been offered access to a courtesy room while you wait.

This allows you to remain comfortable until you can set off, while the new guests can check in without delay.

The same principle is being applied at Morriston Hospital, where the intended outcome is identical.

“Our Discharge Lounge is the last place patients will visit on their journey out of hospital,” said senior matron Rebecca Davies.

“If they can’t go straight home from the ward for whatever reason, they can wait safely with qualified staff, enjoying a cup of tea and a chat, maybe have a sandwich or a meal, until they are ready to leave.

“It might be that they are waiting for family or patient transport or for their take-home medication to be dispensed by the pharmacy.”

While not a new concept, the Discharge Lounge is now in a conveniently-located home right next to the main hospital entrance.

And it is taking its place as a cornerstone in ongoing efforts to improve patient flow by freeing up ward beds earlier in the day.

In basic terms, one free bed equals one fewer patient waiting in the Emergency Department (A&E) or in the back of an ambulance.

Rebecca added: “Ideally, we’d like to see around 50 patients coming through here each day. This can literally keep the hospital moving.”

Qualified nurses and healthcare support workers (HCSWs) stand ready to welcome patients between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, as soon as their medication to take home has been ordered.

Medication can be collected from the pharmacy and given to patients by Discharge Lounge staff, who are also able to book patient transport.

HCSW Ray Perkins explained how they work.

“We get emailed a list of so-called golden patients in the morning and these are the ones that are definitely going home that day. We’ll go and pick these patients up from the ward and bring them down.

“We also get told about the maybes and will continue to chase these and will bring them down here if we can.

“We offer all the care they get on the ward.”

Colleague Natalie Gull added: “We’ll also go around every ward, including A&E and OPAS (Older Person’s Assessment Service) to ask if there are any patients who can come down to us.”

The team, who are all Dementia Champions, are solution focused which means they can help busy ward staff by washing and dressing patients in order for them to be moved to the Discharge Lounge.

Access to the non-emergency patient transport system also means they can re-route crews to pick up from the Discharge Lounge instead of a ward.

“There is no ward in Morriston which cannot send patients to the Discharge Lounge,” said Katie Morgan, lead clinical site matron.

“They can have one-to-one care here because it’s a smaller environment. Everything is taken care of.”

Natalie added: “We get patients involved in conversations if they are able to and have a bit of banter while they wait.

“We’ve had patients telling us they’ve had the best laugh they’ve had in months.”








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