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Discharge Lounge team breaking records to support patient flow

Discharge Lounge Staff

Discharge Lounge Staff

The issue of how we keep patients flowing through the hospital, freeing up beds and creating space for new admissions is one that is wrestled with daily. For Kellyann Whalley, the Senior Sister in charge of our Discharge Lounge, it’s a question that she spends a lot of time thinking about.

“We are fundamental to the function of the of the hospital,” she explains. “There is always a lot of focus on the front doors. I like to think of us as the back doors.” 

Since opening in December 2019, Kellyann and her team have rapidly expanded the Discharge Lounge from five days a week, to running across the weekend. Recent weeks have seen them breaking their own records, discharging 58 patients over a 12 hour period, with over 2700 patients passing through the lounge this year, 461 more than the same time period last year. 

You can find the Discharge Lounge on level 3 where its location gives direct access to outside making transferring patients to transport simple. The lounge has 20 chairs, 2 of which are suitable for bariatric patients and space for 2 stretchers. 

It is an ideal location for patients awaiting medication or discharge, letters for example, to wait as they can move from the ward and stay in a comfortable space while still being cared for by a nursing team until they are able to leave hospital. This, in turn, frees their hospital bed on the ward to be cleaned and made ready for the next patient.??

The aim is to for patients to spend a maximum of 2 hours in the unit before leaving. Coming from the ward dressed and ready to home further speeds up the process. 

The three nurses and additional three HCAs who work in the mornings can wash patients, apply dressings, and administer IVs. “One of the great things about my role is that I can get involved and still have hands-on contact with patients,” says Kellyann, “I would really miss that if I didn’t get to do clinical.”

There are also two regular volunteers, who do vital legwork like tracking down medications from wards and reuniting it with patients, all of which can be a major barrier to patients leaving promptly. 

For many of the older patients the discharge process can be complex and need careful planning. Some go into care settings and need transport pre booked, any delays have a knock-on effect meaning they spend longer in hospital. “We are the key to patients getting home and I get great satisfaction from knowing that we have looked after and successfully discharged them.”

Kellyann has ambitions to grow the service further. “I’d love to have a bigger nursing establishment and to have more treatments rooms where we could ECGs and scans for example. I have a fantastic team here already and it would be great for us to be able to offer more things to patients to help make their discharge run more smoothly. Our volunteers do so much but we always have capacity for more.” 

If there is one message that Kellyann would like everyone to know it is that there are very few patients the Discharge Lounge can’t take. “A lot of time we see on Salus that a patient is not suitable for us when it isn’t always the case”, she explains. “We can take all your patients and I’m always happy to discuss them moving to us. Call me, talk to us, don’t assume we can’t help because we almost certainly can.”  

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