Information for carers

The way we will support patients to leave hospital in Dorset has changed.

This follows a change in national guidance and measures that were put in place to support the COVID 19 pandemic.

You may have received different information if the person for whom you have caring responsibilities was admitted before April 25 2022. This information replaces that guidance.


Home First carers


This page sets out the hospital discharge process for the person you care for, and what happens when they go home or to another place of care. It explains the support available to you both and the arrangements for any longer-term care if needed.

Who is a carer?

A carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid support (excluding carers’ allowance) to a partner, child, relative or friend who could not cope without this help due to their illness, disability, frailty, mental ill health or substance misuse.

Carers play an invaluable role, and looking after your own wellbeing is crucial. You can access help from local organisations dedicated to supporting carers below.

What is the discharge process?

This is the planning and work that takes place to make sure people leave hospital safely, with the support they need to complete their recovery. The process starts as soon as they are admitted to hospital, and health and social care staff will work closely with you to plan discharge arrangements.

Our aim is for people to leave hospital safely as soon as they are able to do so and recover at home, or in a local community hospital or care home if more support is needed.
Staying in hospital for longer than necessary will result in people losing muscle strength, reduce their ability to remain independent and may expose them to infection. Leaving hospital when they are ready is best for them.

Staff will discuss the needs of the person you care for, as well as any arrangements for transport and medication, with you. Please be aware their level of mobility or independence may have changed. We will carry out a full assessment of the person’s needs once they are at home or in another place of recovery, to establish if on-going support is required.

How can I be involved?

Please tell staff:

  • if you are a carer
  • about any communication difficulties or additional needs the person you care for has
  • if you would like to be involved in discussions about encouraging their independence
  • what you feel able to do to support the person you care for, and if there are others who can help
  • about any support you will need as a carer, any information you require or concerns you may have.

You can contact ward staff by phone. Numbers are available on the hospital website or via the hospital switchboard.

If you are finding it difficult to make contact or be involved, please call the Carer Support or Patient Advice and Liaison Service (see details below).

What support will be available?

  • A team of health and social care staff can work with you.
  • They will review your level of support with you regularly.
  • This support is likely to reduce as the person you care for regains their independence.

We want people to return to the best possible level of independence. If the person you care for leaves hospital with additional care needs, there will be a full assessment of what short- or long-term support is required.

There will also be a financial assessment which may result in the person you care for needing to pay for or contribute towards the costs of any further care. NHS care is free at the point of delivery, but most adult social care services are not free. The amount a person pays depends on their finances and ability to pay. For more information visit the Social Care Institute for Excellence website.

Shortage of local care and care workers at present might mean we can’t offer people their first choice of provider, or place of care, straight away. If so, they will be offered an alternative that meets their needs.

People cannot remain in hospital if they are ready for discharge but their preferred choice of care is unavailable. However, they can decline any care we propose and arrange/fund an alternative themselves.

Where to get help and information

If you or the person you care for is unsure about any part of the discharge process, please ask a member of hospital or health and social care staff. Alternatively, please contact:

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS):
Dorset County Hospital: 0800 7838058 or

University Hospitals Dorset:
Poole – 0300 019 8499 or
Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch – 0300 019 4886 or

Carer Support Service (UHD only)
University Hospitals Dorset: 0300 019 8714 or

Your own wellbeing is important. We recommend you register as a carer with your GP practice to access support.

Further help is available from organisations dedicated to supporting carers:

Carers’ Resource Information and Support (CRISP) for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) – Call 01202 128787 or visit
Carer Support Dorset – Call 0800 368 8349 or visit

We can supply this information in other formats, in larger print or have it translated for you. Please contact Dorset HealthCare on 01202 277000.
Our Dorset is a partnership of local health and social care organisations. For more information, visit

Home First – helping you recover at home