Red Cross volunteers head to Royal Sussex to ease winter pressures

Vulnerable patients leaving hospital are set to benefit from extra support to get them settled back at home, helping free up the local NHS to provide care for those in most need. 

The British Red Cross assisted discharge service aims to ease the pressure on hospital services over the busy winter months, and offer extra support to people who might struggle to cope with the transition back to home life.

Katy Jackson, Director of Urgent Care and Systems Resilience for Central Sussex and East Surrey Commissioning Alliance-South, said: “We are committed to supporting vulnerable patients so they can get settled at home when they leave hospital, making the discharge process easier and freeing up hospital beds for those in the most need.

“Winter is set to be extremely difficult for the NHS across the country, especially on A&E departments and local hospitals as they cope with the annual rise in numbers of people seeking treatment. This pilot in part of several activities we are funding and undertaking across the local health care system this winter, easing pressure on our local hospitals.”

The service based at the Royal Sussex County Hospital is operating to support people across the whole of Sussex, thanks to new funding from the East Surrey and Sussex Sustainable Transformational Partnership.

Under the scheme, the Red Cross team meets patients as they are leaving hospital and take them home, making sure that things are comfortable there. They can check that lights and heating are working and that the fridge is cleared and restocked, for example.

They offer two follow-up home visits, helping with practical tasks or just offering companionship, and they can also help people build more links in their communities, or find out about other organisations who can help. One benefit of the service is that it helps to reduce the need for people to be readmitted to hospital.