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Planning care before you leave hospital

What to expect when you go into hospital and planning your care for afterwards.

During your stay in hospital (or before you go into hospital, if it's a planned stay), hospital staff will discuss and plan with you:

  • how the doctor will decide when you're ready to leave hospital (be discharged)
  • when they think that will be
  • whether you will go home or somewhere else, such as a community hospital or care home (most people go home)
  • transport or any other arrangements
  • any support and care you might need

They will involve your family and carers if you want.

It helps to have a key safe at home, or to leave keys with family or friends.

What happens while you're in hospital

If you need care and support after you leave, staff will talk with you about how you can get this. They will work with social care staff, if necessary, to plan your short-term care.

If you're likely to have long-term health and care needs, social services will arrange a care needs assessment. This may occur while you're in hospital or in your home.

If you can manage on your own at home with a little help, hospital staff should make sure:

  • someone is taking you home or you have a taxi, transport from a voluntary organisation or hospital transport
  • you have any medicine or new equipment you need and know how to use it
  • they share information about your care with your GP
  • you know the next steps in your care and how to get help from the hospital
  • local voluntary organisations are there to support you for the first 2 days, if you need it

When you get home from hospital

Temporary care

If you have had a short illness or an operation, you might need care after hospital for a short time to get back to normal. This is called reablement, intermediate care or aftercare.

The aim of this type of short-term care is to help you:

  • stay as independent as possible
  • avoid unnecessary hospital stays

Reablement care is available in some areas for free for up to 6 weeks. Hospital staff can tell you if it's offered in your area.

Ongoing care

After you've had a chance to recover or have had reablement care (if you need it), your local council should assess your long-term health and care needs and help put a plan in place.

You may have to pay towards the costs of long-term care and support.

Find out about getting a needs assessment.


If at any time you feel your care isn't right, contact social services and ask for a review.

You can complain if you're unhappy with your hospital discharge, or the discharge of someone you know.

For example, if:

  • the hospital plans to discharge you before you think it's safe
  • you don't think your discharge assessment was done correctly

Speak to the hospital staff who arranged your discharge.

It might help to get advice from the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) or the charity POhWER who can provide help with NHS health complaints.

Read more about how to complain to the NHS.

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