Hospital buddy scheme to hasten patient discharge

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary
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Some of the borough’s most vulnerable people will soon benefit from a voluntary service to help them home from hospital.

Wigan Council is offering a £300,000 funding boost for co-ordinators of the Home Safe- Simple Discharge programme, which will run with help from Wigan Infirmary.

Scheme providers will identify and organise volunteers to be “hospital discharge buddies” for people chosen by the hospital as ideal candidates to benefit from support to return home safely.

Jo Willmott, council assistant director for provider management, said: “We have listened to patients and carers who have told us that returning home from hospital can be a difficult experience for some people, particularly if they live alone. We are therefore funding the Home Safe service which will offer invaluable support for people with low level needs to help them settle into their home and feel more connected to their local community.

“Discharge buddies will help people get home from hospital and sort out practical things like heating and food for the first few days. For some people this informal support may last up to six weeks.

“The aim of the service is to help people to remain independent in their own homes and reduce pressures on the NHS.”

An integrated discharge hub was opened at the infirmary last August, acting as a solution to the bed blocking crisis.

The team, made up of representatives from WWL Trust, Wigan Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Wigan Council and the Brick Project, is to try to reduce the number of patients who have completed their medical treatment, and are ready to be discharged.

Wigan CCG chairman Dr Tim Dalton said: “Being discharged from hospital can be overwhelming for patients and their families and this can sometimes lead to patients staying in hospital longer than they need to from a purely medical perspective.

“But we know that recovery often happens best when people are at home so it is great to have services that give patients and their families and carers the confidence and capability to leave hospital.

“Making sure that patients can leave hospital when they are medically ready means that we can use the doctors’ and nurses’ time and the beds to best effect for those who need them most. It also helps keep the flow of patients through the hospital, which should mean that more patients are seen within four hours at A&E.”