Discharge from hospital after brain injury

Many people are left with a variety of psychological and physical problems after brain injury and these can often be helped considerably by an intensive period of inpatient rehabilitation. It is possible at this stage that the person may be transferred to a specialist brain injury rehabilitation unit.

If the patient is judged to be able to return home straight from hospital, it is vital that the following areas are assessed first by a member of the hospital team:

  • What remaining difficulties does the patient have – physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural? 
  • Will the patient be safe in his/her home environment? Can a home visit be arranged to check this? 
  • How will his/her continuing needs for rehabilitation be met? 
  • What type of support and follow-up will there be at home? 
  • What medications will he/she need? When should they be taken, and for how long? 
  • Could there be any risk to others (e.g. children in the family) if the patient returns straight home? 
  • Have the patient and family been advised on how best to manage the patient’s remaining problems and those that are likely to occur later?

A formal discharge meeting to address the above issues should be held before the patient is sent home. Social services staff should attend the meeting, together with hospital or rehabilitation staff, close family members and possibly the GP. It may be possible for the person with a brain injury to be allowed home on one or more day or overnight visits, on a trial run basis, before being sent home. This will help family members to find out whether any adaptations are needed for the home (e.g. a wheelchair ramp) and will give them the opportunity to ask questions and get help while still in contact with the hospital team.

On leaving hospital, the patient and family should be given contact details of the neurological rehabilitation team, so that they have someone to contact for advice in the future.

The information in this section is adapted from the Headway booklet Hospital treatment and early recovery after brain injury by Dr Chris Maimaris and Esme Worthington.