A number of patients that are medically fit for discharge fail to leave hospitals due to complications at home.

Many patients are in a position where they are well enough to return home, but can't due to issues such as burst pipes.

Laura Barnes, Transfer of Care Hub Lead Therapist at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Last winter, we saw a number of hospital discharges delayed because of issues with properties.

“Often when a next of kin, friends or neighbours were going to the properties to do pre-discharge checks, they found issues such as burst pipes and water leaks because the heating had not been on for some time."

It is anticipated that this will continue to occur this winter for those patients who have been in hospital during the cold spells.

Ms Barnes said: “We are asking friends and relatives to make sure the home the patient is returning to following a stay in hospital is warm and comfortable with food in the fridge.

“Regular checking of homes will help your loved one get back to their home comforts without an unnecessary delay.”

Suggestions offered to facilitate a smooth transition for the healing patient back to their home include organising belongings on the same floor where they will be spending most of their time, making things easy to get to.

Adjustments recommended by ward therapy teams should be carried out in a timely manner, such as setting up a bed on the ground floor when required.

Stocking up on canned or frozen food is also advised, as well as toilet paper, shampoo, and other personal items.

Food and other necessities should be easily accessible and in a place that can be reached without bending down or over-reaching, such as in a cupboard that is between waist and shoulder level.

Buying or making single meals that can be frozen and reheated is also advisable.

Glasses, silverware and other items that are often used should be left on the kitchen counter.

It is also important to make sure that they can access a phone, a mobile phone being best, and if they have access to a care line it should be tested before the patient is discharged.

A chair with a firm back in each room will allow the person to sit when completing daily tasks, and if they are using a walking aid, it may be beneficial to use a caddy attachment to hold their phone and any other essentials.

Ensure the walkways within their homes are clear of obstacles should they need to use a walking aid, and make sure they have appropriate clothing and footwear in hospital with them.