Kettering General Hospital has launched a number of initiatives to improve the way in which it discharges patients.
The aim is to make sure that people who are medically fit and ready to leave hospital are able to do so as soon as possible and have a good experience.
The hospital’s chief operating officer Alan Gurney said: “This is about doing everything we can to improve the discharge experience at the hospital.
“We have carefully researched some of the key causes of delay within the trust and have put together some new ways of working to address them.
“Many of our patients are elderly and with complex health and mobility issues that require input from various professionals – which can be a source of delay.
“By creating specialised units with lots of expertise and a clear focus for discharge we hope that we can ensure that patients do go home as soon as possible.
This is about doing everything we can to improve the discharge experience at the hospitalAlan Gurney
“Our changes will complement some of the wider work that is ongoing at a county level to develop improved step-down facilities from hospital and better supported care for people returning home.”
The initiatives include an expanded new discharge lounge to ensure that, on the day of discharge, patients are prepared and supported while waiting to go home and do not continue to occupy a bed on one of the medical or surgical wards.
The unit, the largest the hospital has ever had with 10 chairs and 10 single rooms, opened on July 4 and is based in Fotheringhay ward.
Head of capacity Clare Beattie said: “This area will be the key destination for all KGH patients being discharged.
“It should be large enough to ensure patients can arrive in it as early as possible on their day of discharge.
“This will ensure that other ward beds are freed up early and this helps improve hospital flow by, for example, accommodating patients being admitted from A&E or by GP referral.
“We have a dedicated team of nurses and healthcare assistants who will support patients with their medication and ensure they are comfortable and can have something to eat and drink while they are waiting to be picked up.”
Another initiative is the facilitated early discharge unit, a 36-bed unit on the two former medical wards of Lamport and Twywell which opened on June 3.
It specialises in helping patients who will benefit from physical or occupational therapy before they can leave hospital.
General manager for adult medicine Lesley Shepherd said: “This is about helping people to get timely and enhanced support that will make them feel physically and emotionally confident and ready to go home.
“By having a ward dedicated to just this purpose it enables us to put together a team of experienced staff who can maximise this.
“The unit’s team is made up of KGH staff and also specialist intermediate care team staff from Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.”
And an acute frailty unit is set to open in the Autumn, which will see an existing short-stay medical ward (Clifford Ward) take on a new role specialising in supporting frail older patients with complex needs.
By increasing input from doctors and nurses with geriatric skills and experience the aim is to ensure patients become as fit as they can so they are ready for discharge as soon as possible.
Patients will arrive from the A&E department and will be seen by a team made up of consultant geriatricians, physicians and specialist frail elderly nurses.
Lesley Shepherd said: “This will enable us to do everything we can to ensure that these patients are able to move on and don’t in anyway become less mobile, less confident and more dependent on hospital staff – something which can lead to longer stays in hospital.
“The aim is for patients to stay in this unit no longer than 72 hours.”
Each day the hospital discharges about 70 patients who have had an overnight stay.
At any one time the hospital has an average of 75 patients where discharge has been delayed – affecting about 15 per cent of beds.