This joint pilot project aimed to test out an approach for building a picture of older people’s experiences of health and social care services following a stay in hospital. The project was devised in response to the need for a better understanding of current transfer of care experiences during and after hospital discharge – particularly the longer view of a patient’s recovery journey. The project aimed to explore what the recovery journey was like. How well the transfer of care from hospital to the community worked and how the learning from these experiences could be used to help drive improvements.
Using an adaptation of the ‘Going Home’ methodology, both Healthwatch collaborated with King’s Hospital Trust’s Engagement Team over summer and autumn 2017 to collect patient stories from older people admitted to the Denmark Hill emergency department.
In following our participants over several months, we captured the ups and downs of recovery experiences including hospital readmissions, problems with medications and the frustrations of changing mobility.
- In addition to health fluctuations, most of our interviewees described feeling out of control, isolated and unhappy about their situations, which undermined their psychological wellbeing and affected their sense of recovery; notably, these feelings were experienced by family carers as well as those recovering from their hospital stay.
- In a number of cases, individuals were not supported to take control of their own health and wellbeing, to the extent of feeling institutionalised rather than regaining independence.
Effective in deepening understanding of patient experience
The ‘Going Home’ pilot has been particularly effective in helping to deepen understanding about the complexities of care that many older patients and their families face when leaving hospital and the anxiety this can cause. Our project demonstrates that these feelings often last over a significant period, as people recuperate and adapt to different situations and changed levels of independence.