Caring for someone in or visiting hospital

Partners, family members, relatives or friends are often faced with important decisions during someone’s stay in hospital, or at outpatient appointments. This may be the first time that someone realises that they are, or are about to be, an unpaid carer for a family member or friend.

You may have lots of questions about the situation… Will the person be able to return home? What support will they need? Will they deteriorate and, if so, how quickly?

If you are new to caring, you will probably also have a whole range of questions about what caring might mean for you… What will I have to do? How will it affect me and other members of the family? What about my job? Can I cope with the physical and emotional demands of caring?

Even if you are already a carer, a hospital admission or outpatient appointment may mean new demands, that you need to consider carefully.

It is important to talk to staff as early as possible if you are or might become a carer.

At Torbay Hospital, we recognise that carers play an important role – a vital source of information about the person, and a vital partner in their care and support. Unless carers, or people who may become carers, are actively involved from the beginning, a patient’s home situation or discharge plan will not work so well. Besides the support you can provide to someone, staff should also ensure that you are getting the right support for you in your caring role.

We want you to feel welcome to patient’s appointments and onto the wards – many wards let carers visit outside normal visiting hours, and will let you undertake caring tasks if you (and the patient) want to continue to do so. A patient’s stay, particularly if they have dementia or a learning disability, is often less traumatic if a carer helps plan the stay or supports them at certain stressful times, e.g. before going to theatre. All wards have a reclining chair where carers can stay if necessary. Please check with the sister or matron about the arrangements on the ward. However, staff will understand if you want a complete break.

Carers who are on Torbay or Devon’s Carers Register can park for free when the person that they care for is staying in or visiting Torbay Hospital. They can also have staff discounts on certain hot meals at Bayview Restaurant.

Hospital stay to home – what happens?

During someone’s stay a discharge plan is made which records what has to be done to safely move them back into the community. It is made by the team of clinical and social care staff who will work with you and the person you care for. It will give you as a carer the chance to be involved and help plan for the future. It should also include a discussion about what medication the person should take, what it is for, and signs to be aware of.

What support is available to me?

Carers who provide or might provide care have a legal right to a carer’s assessment by Social Services. Social Services can provide services to the person you care for, and can also provide services for you. To work out what services would be helpful they will discuss your needs. Ask the ward staff for information about a carer’s assessment.

What sort of services and support do carers find helpful?

Carers may need services that give them a break from caring or help with caring tasks during the day or night. They often need advice on benefits or finance and emotional support.

It is important to think about these questions as early as possible to ensure you get the support you need both now and for the future. Please feel able to discuss your concerns , however small they may seem, with the Named Nurse or other members of the wards team, as we are here to help.

If you look after a family member, Friend or neighbour who can’t manage alone, you might like regular up to date information about the support and services available to you. You may also want to have a say about future services.

For further information choose one of the following contacts, depending on where you live:

  • Signposts for Carers: 01803 666620. Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust’s specialist information and support service for carers in Torbay.

  • Torbay Carers Register: 01803 522228. Includes access to the Emergency Response Card and Service.

  • Teignbridge Carers Link: 01392 824752.

  • South Hams and West Devon Carers Link: 01803 862622 ext 204.


If you cannot find the information you require, our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) may be able to help.

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