Discharge planning is when a patient, with their carer, family and any staff involved, make arrangements for a smooth transition from hospital to home, or to somewhere else. It involves considering things like:
- follow-up tests and appointments
- personal health goals
- in home care requirements, such as services via My Aged Care.
A discharge plan can be simple or complex. For example, you might be expected to leave hospital in two days with certain medications, and you might be told to see your GP two days after you get home. However, if you have a chronic disease or need plenty of ongoing care, your discharge plan might involve you, your GP, other healthcare professionals, family members and carers.
Who needs a copy of the plan?
All of these people should have a copy of the discharge plan, so that everyone knows what they need to do to ensure that you have continuing care. Where appropriate, other people or organisations – such as a residential care facility, rehabilitation service or community service – should have a copy too.
What’s a discharge summary?
A discharge summary is part of a discharge plan, typically prepared by your hospital doctor while you are in hospital. It should be given to you and sent to other healthcare professionals. It’s important your GP gets a copy of this so that they know how to continue to care for you.
How you should be involved
You have rights to be involved in discharge planning, as set out in the Charter of Healthcare Rights. Here are some questions you could ask yourself before you’re discharged:
- Do I understand what happened in hospital?
- Do I understand which treatment I need now – and in the future?
- Do I know which medications to take and when? Do I have enough of those medications until I can see my GP?
- Do I know when my follow-up appointments are?
- Has my GP been informed of my admission and of my discharge plan?
- Do I need care when I go home? Has this been organised?
- Do I have transport arranged?
- Are there any concerns or questions I should raise before I am discharged from hospital?
For more information about discharge planning processes and standards, visit the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.