A NEW checklist and information sheet for patients, carers and families is being launched at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

The checklist is designed to provide patients, carers and families with helpful information to help them or their loved one while in hospital and as well as providing questions they may wish to ask the clinical teams.

Feedback has suggested that some patients do not always fully understand why they are still in hospital or what needs to happen before they are able to be discharged home.

The checklist will allow patients or carers to lead the conversation with the care professionals and go through some key questions should they wish to do so.

The checklists are available in both hospitals as well as via the public website.

The document includes useful information including preventing infection in hospital, preventing falls and medications as well as questions where notes can be made including: ‘Have there been any changes made to my care today’ and ‘which of these do I have to achieve before I can go home’.

Before the checklist has been published, it was tested with patients on wards at CIC and WCH and with local third sector groups.

The launch is the next phase of the North Cumbria health and care system’s ‘No Place Like Home’ campaign, which is aiming to help people understand the changes being made to the way health and care is delivered locally with more care being provided in the community.

If a hospital stay is required, the local NHS want to ensure people understand the reasons why they either require further hospital intervention or why they can be provided with ongoing care at home or in the community.

Elizabeth Klein, chief matron for emergency care at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “When developing this checklist, I was struck by the number of patients who said to me that they are not confident enough to ask their doctor everything they may like to ask. It is so important that people understand their own - or the person they are caring for - healthcare plan to enable them to help their own recovery.

"Sometimes it can be intimidating to have a group of clinicians standing round you and patients don't ask the questions they want to for fear of looking foolish. This is about breaking down the barriers.

“The final version looks different from the original as feedback has reminded us to avoid using medical jargon which can add to people’s confusion.

"We would like to thank everybody who has helped us to develop the checklist and I would encourage people to use it and let us know what they think.”

Representatives from third sector groups who helped to develop the checklist have commented on the launch.

Dani Leslie, chief officer at Eden Carers said: ”Carers of hospital patients have repeatedly told us they felt stressed and anxious throughout the process as they did not know what was happening with either their loved one’s treatment or when they were expected to be discharged. Eden Carers has been involved in developing this check list as it should take away the uncertainty, thereby allowing families a smooth and successful planned return home.”

And Angela O’Carroll from Carlisle Mencap said: “The patient checklist is a useful tool to aid support and to direct patient ,families and us as the care support in the community. We promote ‘home is best’ as we know that encouraging a return to home to recover is the best remedy.”

Clare Edwards, health partnerships officer at Cumbria CVS said: “Supporting and encouraging patients and their friends, families and carers to be more engaged in their care when in hospital and to feel more confident about asking questions about their treatment is really important. The six local third sector organisations who supported this project were delighted to have been involved. It has been a really positive experience for all of us, we know that our contribution has been valued and we have felt equal partners in the process. We are very much looking forward to supporting the next phase of this work developing information about hospital discharges.”