Skip to content
Text size:
  • Home
  • Information about Adult Social Care and Health

Hospital stays

Going into hospital

If you're going into hospital there are some things you may need to think about to prepare for your stay and your return home.

If you currently receive care and support services from your council, please contact us to let us know so we can suspend your services until you return home.

If you later find out your hospital stay has been postponed after telling us about it, please contact us.

Read our information sheet - Hospital information: advice for people going into or leaving hospital for further information.

What happens if I or my relative is taken to hospital?

Sometimes it is necessary for us to be brought into an acute hospital to receive a medical assessment or treatment due to a crisis at home e.g. a fall or a change in our health. When this happens, you will be assessed by a doctor and any other professionals appropriate to your situation at the time i.e. therapist, specialist nurse, social worker. At this point, it may not be necessary for you to be admitted to hospital.

The outcome of your medical assessment may be that you have not sustained an injury or deterioration in your health that requires treatment in an acute hospital setting. In this case, the medical team will decide what happens next and inform you or your relative. Other arrangements can be made for you to be followed up medically by community health or therapy services.

What if more time is needed to decide?

It maybe that more assessments and treatments are required over a period of time to understand what is going on and how to best help you recover and return home.

In this case a decision may be made to move you to an assessment ward.

What kind of assessments might I need?

If you have any questions about medical assessments or treatment you will need to discuss these with the medical staff on your ward. You may also be seen by an Occupational Therapist (OT) and/or Physiotherapist and/or other specialist therapists and nurses depending on your medical situation.

There is also a social worker who works on the assessment ward who can provide information, advice and signposting to enable you to feel supported as you make plans to return home.

Welfare benefits while in hospital

The Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) must be advised of all hospital admissions as it may affect the payment of your state benefits. Different rules apply to each benefit claimed so you should inform each office that pays you. The telephone number to call is on the annual award letter for each benefit received. A friend or relative may call on your behalf.

Failure to report hospital admissions may result in overpayments which are recoverable
by the DWP.

Remember to let each office know when you return to your home.

  • Attendance allowance 0800 731 0122
  • Disability Living Allowance 0800 121 4600
  • Personal Independence Payment 0800 121 4433
  • Jobcentre Plus for Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance 0800 169 0310
  • Pension Service for State Pension and Pension Credit 0800 731 0469
  • Carer’s Allowance 0800 731 0297
  • Universal Credit report change of circumstance via your on-line Journal.

As your admission to hospital may affect any benefits that your Carer receives, they must also inform the DWP if they claim Carer’s Allowance.

Pet care

Looking after your pet in an emergency

We know how important your pet is to you. They are part of the family. But have you thought about what would happen to them if you became unwell or went into hospital? It is a very good idea to make a plan to ensure your pet is looked after in the event of an emergency.

You may have a relative or close friend who would be happy to look after your pet temporarily, or your Vet of may be able to recommend good foster homes.

Alternatively, you can register your pet with The Cinnamon Trust (Telephone 01736 757900) or Waggy Tails Rescue (Telephone 01202 875000).

Whatever arrangements you make, keep a note of them, including names and contact details, and put them somewhere in your home where they can be easily found if the need arises.

Please also keep your pet up to date with vaccinations and treatments.

Home security

If you need to go into hospital at short notice, do you have a person you trust who has agreed to look after your home and contents while you’re away? Someone like a relative, close friend, neighbour, or the person that holds your Power of Attorney. Sometimes people approach a solicitor or a professional organisation, such as a charity.

Whatever arrangements you make, keep a note of them, including names and contact details, and put them somewhere in your home where they are safe but can be easily found if the need arises. Perhaps inside the front door, or near the telephone or TV.

You may want to consider telling the person you trust about any possessions that are particularly valuable to you, for sentimental or financial reasons, so they can keep an eye on them.

Think about reducing the amount of spare cash you keep in your home and about whether your important documents, such as insurance documents and your Will, are secure, but also accessible in an emergency.

Whenever you go out try to leave your home locked and secure.

If you need to go into hospital and you really have no one who can look after your property, the Council may sometimes be able to help, but it is usually better if you have made the arrangements yourself.

Carer's Passport for use at community hospitals

As a carer you can expect to be offered the opportunity, should you wish, to be with the person you care for at any time – and not be confined to normal visiting hours.

We now run a Carer's Passport scheme at all of our community hospitals.
Under the system, you can identify yourself on arrival and request a badge, or ‘passport’, which allows you to stay beyond regular visiting hours – providing reassurance and additional help for the person you are caring for.

The scheme is based on the national John’s Campaign, which aims to give carers of those living with dementia the right to stay with them in hospital. However, we have opened up our Carer's Passport scheme to all carers.

Please chat with any member of hospital staff to find out more. More details can also be found in our 'Information for carer's' leaflet.

Our community hospitals have signed up to John’s Campaign via this pledge.

Leaving hospital

If you previously lived independently and feel you have returned to that same level of independence, you can discuss this with the doctor or nurse when you are ready to be discharged.

If you feel you may need some support initially going home and you have family and/or friends who can help, you could discuss this with them and the ward staff to plan your discharge home.

If you do not have family or friends locally, you may need to think about what support you may need. If this support is required for a few days only, to settle you back home, e.g. ensure you have shopping in, daily welfare checks and other community information and signposting, there may be community or charitable services that can provide this e.g. Red Cross.


The NHS does not generally provide transport for non-emergency visits to hospital. But if your condition or disability makes using public transport or getting in and out of a car difficult, you may be eligible for free patient transport.

Contact the Dorset Patient Transport Bureau for information about patient transport.

Dorset Patient Transport Bureau

If you are not eligible there are community transport schemes that may be able to help.

Contact details for Dorset care teams

  • Poole Hospital 01202 442522
  • Royal Bournemouth Hospital 01202 704855
  • Dorchester County Hospital 01305 255356

Related information sheet

More information can be found in the following information sheet:

Hospital information: advice for people going into or leaving hospital