HEALTH providers across the county are stepping up efforts to ensure patients are kept in the loop during their stay in hospital.

A new poster campaign asking ‘Why Not Home, Why Not Today?’ has been launched to help people feel more informed about their treatment and cut down on stress. The joint scheme between Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, outlines four key questions patients should know the answer to during their time in hospital.

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The questions are: What is the matter with me? What is going to happen today? When am I going home? What is needed to get me home? They address both day-to-day care while in hospital, and the transition from hospital to home or community care.

The health and social care system have been working together over the winter months to apply a ‘home first’ approach, including a recent initiative put in place OUH to get patients home safely and quickly from hospital.

It is part of efforts to reduce bed blocking as OUH has experienced five months of extremely high demand which has left stretched staff at the John Radcliffe Hospital constantly battling to cope with ‘severely congested’ wards.

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Sam Foster, Chief Nursing Officer at the hospital , said: “It’s really important that patients feel well-informed and updated during their stay in hospital.

"It can be quite a stressful time, and by having answers to the four key questions they can feel much more confident in knowing what’s next for them.”

She added: “The messaging isn’t just for patients – it’s for their families and carers too, and it also prompts continued good practice with our staff.

“By being and feeling informed, patients can have a much better idea of what their care will look like and what they can expect.

“Sometimes, one of the most difficult parts of being in hospital can be not knowing what’s going on, and we’re looking to address that.”

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The head nurse explained the questions mean that information can be given in a ‘clear and structured way’, and also manage expectations about when people can go home, and what’s needed to get them there.

Karen Fuller, deputy director of Adult Social Care at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re really pleased with this new joint campaign. One of the health and social care system’s priorities this winter is to have a ‘home first’ approach to discharge, and we’re working hard together as a system to achieve this.”

She added: “When people have been in hospital, they are often keen to go home but may feel unsure or a little nervous after being looked after in a hospital environment.

"By communicating openly and frequently with them about how we can help them leave hospital and return home safely, they can feel more confident about the next stage of their care.”