In the report, we make several recommendations to improve people’s experience and the quality of care, mainly around the need for better communication, preparation, and support. We have shared the report with Somerset NHS and other organisations involved in the transfer to care process to inform their decisions about how to develop and improve.
Since the report’s research was conducted, Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton opened a new discharge lounge in May 2022, to make it easier for patients who no longer need hospital care to return home. And, in December 2022, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust introduced Ready to Go Units, focused on rehabilitation, to help patients get the best care for them according to their needs and reduce the risk of deconditioning caused by long stays in hospital.
Announcing the report, Gill Keniston-Goble, Healthwatch Somerset Manager, acknowledged the dedication of health and social care professionals and the pressures they are under, while emphasising the value of learning from patient experience. She said: “We are aware, from public feedback and our work with people and organisations working in health and care, that there is pressure on the delivery of NHS and adult social care services. Some of these pressures can be seen through long waits for hospital beds. Reasons for these waits include an increase in demand for hospital care and difficulties in discharging people who no longer require hospital care due to a lack of care home beds and/or services to provide care at home and in the community.
“We wanted to explore the quality of the transfer of care process in Somerset and use the experiences of people who have been discharged from hospital to inform positive change. We are pleased that NHS Somerset has already made some progress to address people’s concerns and we will continue to support their development work by championing the views of local people.”
We will follow up on this report and the progress made by Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Adult Social Care, when we investigate care in the community and intermediate care next year.