Supporting discharge with welfare calls

Over the last year a new service has been provided by our volunteers to check on patients after they’ve been discharged. Welfare/Safety Netting calls are made to patients who have no recognised support needs. Any issues are immediately escalated so that patients can receive further support at home, with the aim of reducing readmissions.

Paul Newman carrying out a welfare call Image PNThe service started in April 2022 and since then more than 16,000 calls were made in its first 14 months. Before this, patients had no follow-up call after discharge. Now a team of 13 volunteers contact patients 24 hours after discharge, except for discharges made on a weekend which are followed up on the Monday.

Volunteers are given a list of patients to contact each day and run through ten short questions with the patient to assess how they are managing back at home. This can range from asking the patient if they are eating, drinking and sleeping okay, whether they have enough food in the house and whether patients are feeling lonely.

Anything that concerns a volunteer is fed back to Lorraine Nelhams, Voluntary Services Discharge Co-ordinator, who oversees the team. Volunteers will often signpost patients back to their GP. Lorraine liaises with other agencies including British Red Cross, Age UK and Voluntary Norfolk to arrange further support to discharged patients, if necessary.

She said: “The aim is to prevent re-admissions. Volunteers can pick up little things in a patient’s voice, but they’re really important things. Sometimes we speak to relatives if they’re there. Sometimes we make a note to follow up with another call to the patient in a week, if needed.

“Patients are overwhelmingly grateful for the call and usually so positive about the care they have received at the hospital, which is lovely to hear.”