Timely Discharge Series: “Nobody knows!”

Age UK spoke to Sylvia, 93, who has recently come out of hospital following a stroke. She talks about her time in hospital and her experience once she returned home. Sylvia’s story shows how important it is to start with the person with the person when planning admissions and discharge. Otherwise people feel left out of decisions about their own care.

This is the first blog in the BGS’s ‘Timely Discharge’ series. We aim to raise awareness of the detrimental effects on older people of being stuck in hospital when they are 'medically fit for discharge'. Our blog series explores the causes of delayed discharges, the knock-on effects to the wider health and social care system, and what needs to change.

I’d called 999 as I was having a stroke so was taken in by ambulance and it was all very sudden.

The hospital that I was in there were no windows out to see anything and I was moved round a lot, which is disturbing because you get to know the other people in your group. You usually have a good rapport with them which I think is very important. It does really help to come to terms with being there, so you don’t give up.

It’s much better with the television off because otherwise you can’t hear anything or anyone else. It’s too distracting.

The first two weeks I had to stay in bed. Keeping somebody of my age in bed means you can’t walk when you get up, so I think that’s something that needs to be dealt with in hospital. There was no visiting on the wards which didn’t help me get better. I thought I may not be here tomorrow.

I was in and out of hospital for a long time, so I have more experience than most. I found my hospital discharge very confusing. Having gone in they sent me home after a couple of weeks then the next day they sent me back again, which I didn’t like.

I think it’s quite interesting how you react to being treated. You don’t know what’s happening to you. I think that’s something that needs addressing with the discharge because everybody likes and needs to know what’s happening.

You feel you’re not in charge of anything and you don’t know what’s going on. You feel useless and get the feeling that nobody’s listening.

I had marvellous assistance from separate people in the hospital, they were excellent help; but there was a great deal of confusion when I was due to come home. I got ready to be discharged four times only to be told I couldn’t go yet. I found that very disturbing.

When they said I could go, I ended up getting sent home in a taxi and got home at half past 8 at night. I had no food, so the Red Cross got me something which cheered me up.

I was brought home and had no medication given to me. I didn’t find out until later, but they said I wasn’t supposed to have been sent home, I was supposed to have been sent to rehab.

After all the time I’ve been in hospital, I ended up not going to rehab. The Stroke Association offered to come for 6 weeks because I live on my own, to check-up and look after me, so that’s very satisfactory and we get on very well.

What’s happening next? Nobody knows! At first the stroke was bad; I couldn’t see or do anything, but I wasn’t going to live like that, so I reprogrammed my head! I’m one of those survivors that keep going.

The biggest trouble for people like me is we all need a purpose for living, no matter what it is. You need a project so that when people come out of hospital they’re not abandoned.

I’m sure that’s why so many old people are lonely and distraught because they can’t cope, so I think that’s an important point. I think there needs to be more follow up after discharge instead of just leaving us all with nothing.

I don’t have a professional carer, but I have my own helper. I think time management should be part of what happens when you’re discharged from hospital! I’m not just going to sit on the settee watching television and waiting to die!


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