Going into hospital can be a worrying time, even when your treatment is planned and you are mentally prepared for it. When your hospital admission is unexpected, as a result of an accident or fall or a sudden illness, it can be even more traumatic.
Always take your medication to hospital with you so that the hospital doctors know what you are taking.
Citizens Advice offers lots of advice about going into hospital, including advice on patients’ rights. Age UK has produced Going into hospital.
Planned hospital stay
If you’re only going in for a few days, you will probably only need to stop the papers and ask someone to keep an eye on your home.
Don’t take too much with you: nightwear, toiletries, slippers, glasses, any specialist equipment and something to occupy your time, e.g. a novel or mobile device, is usually sufficient. Volunteers usually come to wards selling newspapers, snacks and drinks. Leave valuables at home.
More and more surgery is now being carried out without the need for an overnight stay in hospital. If you are offered day surgery, you may wish to arrange beforehand for a relative to come and collect you (or bring in a packed bag in case you need to stay overnight).
Giving consent for treatment or surgery
Patients must give consent for any treatment or surgery. If you temporarily lack consent due to shock, pain, anaesthetic, unconsciousness, etc, doctors and nurses may need to decide if medical intervention is in your best interests. When someone permanently lacks capacity to give consent their treatment is not urgent, they will be treated under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate will be instructed.
Hospital visiting times
Visiting times vary depending on the hospital and individual wards. If you’re not certain, ask a member of staff or check here. It’s important to respect visiting times to enable staff to get on with jobs and enable other patients some quiet time. In certain situations, visiting times are flexible or open, e.g. if the patient is a child or someone is terminally ill.
Most hospitals in Wales now provide free parking but it is often hard to find a space. Allow plenty of time and be prepared to park nearby (and perhaps have to pay).
Being discharged from hospital
In some instances, you may be well enough to leave hospital but still need some support to live independently at home again. If this is the case, the nurse or social worker will usually arrange for you to receive short-term help.
If you are worried that no support is being put into place for you to return home, ask to speak to someone in the hospital discharge team.
Bad (and good) hospital stay
If you had a bad experience and want to make a complaint, contact the relevant local Community Health Council. On the other hand, if you have been impressed by your care, why not write to the hospital or send a thank you card to the ward?
Patient Opinion pulls together people’s experiences of UK hospitals, with responses from the hospitals themselves.
Your benefits may or may not be affected when you go into hospital so it’s best to check.
Disability Rights UK has put together a useful list which sets out how individual benefits are affected; however, if you are likely to be in hospital a long time, it’s worth letting someone know. Any benefits someone living in your household is claiming could also be affected.