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A conscience at work: the pressure to discharge and its consequences

Sharna discusses the pressure to discharge and its consequences
Definitely. I think– it’s really difficult, because I felt pressured into doing that. And sometimes it was I didn’t agree with what I was doing, but I had to do it. So there’s lots of times when people have gone home and they’ve actually been readmitted again within a couple of days, because they didn’t have the right equipment, they didn’t have the right medication, or they were still actually acutely unwell, but the discharge was pushed too quickly. Or some family members have felt that they wanted to remove their relatives from the hospital as quickly as they could, but they didn’t really take into account how much their relative had changed. So then they become completely overwhelmed.
And then they contact us once they’re at home, asking for support, which we then have to rush to put in. And we don’t have access to all the information that you have in the hospital.
Yeah. So anxious. Yeah. We’ve had a few people who’ve been like permanent residents in like residential homes and family members have removed them from the home. Which obviously poses a risk in itself, because, for example, if family members are working, there is a chance that they’re going to pass it on to their relatives, even if they’re moving them out of the residential home in they’re currently living with them. It’s really difficult to know what the right thing to do in this situation is, because things are changing so quickly.
And you– it’s like I struggle with it, because I’ve got a professional framework and I’ve got experience working in a hospital for years, but I don’t have any experience of working in a pandemic. So it’s really hard to know what the right thing is for people.

In the UK and other countries, hospitals became overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients who needed bed space. This led to a pressure to discharge patients as fast as possible. However, often these people were frail and vulnerable, and had not been tested for the virus. Workers feared that when managing discharges they might be contributing to harm to these patients, or their families, or the residents of the care homes to which they discharged.

In the UK, this became a major controversy as the rate of Covid-19 deaths in care homes grew and grew. Many more people died in care homes than in hospital. Later in the week we look at some underlying explanations for this – the idea that hospital care was more valued in everyone’s minds than residential care, creating a split between ‘heroic’ and ‘stocial’ forms of care.

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Grief, Loss, and Dying During COVID-19

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