One in three people are sent home from inpatient care in a mental health hospital too early, says the charity Mind.
Research released today by the charity found that 38% of people felt they were discharged from hospital sooner than they should have been.
A further 21% said they had not been given any notice that they were to be going home, even when they had been in hospital for more than a month.
This was added to by 37% of people saying that after discharge there was no further plan for their care, contrary to current guidelines.
Only half of people (51 per cent) said their accommodation needs were considered in any plans, and less than a third (29 per cent) said that money and benefits were considered.
NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines state that plans should be made for people’s ongoing care from admission or as early as possible from when they go into hospital.
There should be a written plan that is put together in collaboration with the person receiving care. Yet nearly two in three people (66 per cent) in the survey said they were not given a written care plan and one in four (23 per cent) said they were unaware of any plan at all.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “It is shocking that so many people are being sent home from hospital before they feel like they are ready to leave, with no appropriate plan for the care of their mental health. This is not good enough. It is a tragedy that so many people so very recently leaving the care of hospital are being left to cope alone, and are at risk of losing their lives.
“Whether you’ve been in hospital for days or for months, when you come out you need the right care and support to help you stay well. Appropriate planning while you’re in hospital is essential. Help with things like housing or finances can make a huge difference, and you should at the very least have support to look after your mental health.
“Leaving hospital and coming home can be daunting. You need to feel prepared and confident you will get the support and services you need to help pick up the pieces and continue getting better. Providers must urgently make the improvements needed for everyone in their care.”
Phillipa is 34 years old and has been diagnosed with both emotionally unstable personality disorder and a long-standing eating disorder. She was in hospital in January 2016. She said: “I'd been in my local mental health unit for a week, when one morning I woke up to be told that there was a taxi waiting for me downstairs, and to get ready. Dazed and confused, still half asleep, I didn’t understand. Did I have an appointment? Was I visiting somewhere? Did they have the right person?
“Within minutes I found myself in the taxi, with all my belongings shoved into four bin liners. Handed not enough medication to get me through the weekend, I was now off suicide watch and, with a staff member, apparently headed for my local Community Mental Health Team (CMHT).
“I didn’t know the time, if I had my door key, if I had money on me or if I had my bus pass. No one could explain what had just happened. How would I get meds at the weekend? Did I have food in the house? Did I have money on the electricity meter, the gas meter? Did my phone have battery? What would I do? Was there anyone around this weekend? How will I get home from the CMHT?
“My brain froze. I went into a state of shock. Was I even awake? I cannot do this. I don’t think most people could have coped, and in my already fragile state of mind, I really had no chance.”