Hospital stays

Your guide to hospital stays

A stay in hospital can be a worrying time. You might have concerns about how you’ll cope while you’re away from home or how you’ll manage when you return. However, the concerns many older people have, as well as those of their family and carers, can be reduced by planning your visit ahead of time.

This guide provides some general advice for planning your hospital stay and your recovery. If you have specific questions or concerns you should raise these with your GP, nurses or other health professionals. It is important that you let other people know how you’re feeling so you can get the support you need.

We hope that people with concerns about a stay in hospital, carers and families, find it useful. Print this page to give to someone you know or use the share button on the right of this page.

If you have a planned hospital admission there are some practical things you can do to prepare for your stay. You can ask family members, friends or health professionals to help with this.

Making sure that the practicalities are looked after means less fretting whilst you’re in hospital.

If you are admitted to hospital in an emergency - after a fall for example - you can use basic equipment provided by the hospital until you can arrange for someone to bring you your things from home. Hospital staff should be able to help you  arrange this.

Going into hospital checklist

  • If you have any caring responsibilities find someone to take these on from you.
  • If you get help from social services, tell them you are going into hospital.
  • State Pensions should continue to be paid while you are in hospital but any benefits you receive may be affected. For more information go to
  • Make sure your home is secure. You might need to ask someone to look after your pet, water your plants or collect your mail. Alternatively, Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service will look after your post for up to two months.
  • Make a list of things you want to take into hospital and get help shopping for any extras you might need.
  • Write down any questions you may have so you can discuss them with staff when you get into hospital.
  • Unplug your electrical appliances and turn your heating down before you leave home.

While you’re in hospital


Royal Voluntary Service provides support in many hospitals around the country. You can find out more about these services from your nurses or search for Royal Voluntary Service services. If you want spiritual support ask your care staff about what is available.


If you have any questions or are unclear about anything, it is important that you ask for more information. You may want a relative or carer to be present during your consultations or you may find it easier to ask for a summary of your conversations with care staff to be provided in writing. If English is not your first language you can ask for an interpreter to be present.

Eating and drinking

It is very important that you eat and drink well before you go into hospital, while you are in hospital and once you have left. It means you are more likely to recover quickly. If you have a special diet or need some help eating or drinking, tell hospital staff as soon as you arrive.

Please exercise your common sense when considering this guide and whether to take any of the steps that may be suggested in it. Whilst we have taken reasonable care to ensure that any factual information is accurate and complete, most of the information in this guide is based on our views and opinions (and sometimes the views and opinions of the people or organisations we work with). As a result, we cannot make any promises about the accuracy or the completeness of the information and we don’t accept any responsibility for the results of your reliance on it.

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