Ease the path from acute to community

NICE offers guidelines on how to ensure patients have the social support they need to leave hospital in a timely way. Its new guidance acknowledges the patient’s ‘journey’ often begins with emergency admission, and emphasises the dedicated role of the discharge co-ordinator. Despite pressures, nurses can lead improvements.

With delays in discharging hospital patients reaching record levels, new official guidance is particularly timely.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines are designed to improve the transition between inpatient hospital settings and community or care settings for adults who require social care.

The overall aim is to ensure patients receive the support they need to leave hospital when they are ready, and to avoid repeated hospital stays.

Picture credit: Chris Balcombe

For consultant nurse, Liz Deutsch, the guideline’s key word is transition.

‘We always used to talk about discharge planning and, for me, discharge is a term more associated with the army than anything else,’ she says. ‘It implies finality, whereas transition has a different focus. That’s a breath of fresh air, because it’s much more the reality.’

Working in acute medicine at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, discharge has long been


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