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Going into and leaving hospital

Preparing for a hospital stay

It is important to be prepared for a stay in hospital, not only in terms of what you need to take with you but also to make sure everything at home is secure and will keep running as usual.

We’ve put together some advice to help you check everything is covered.

Who you need to tell

If you are going to hospital for treatment, you should think about the plans you need to make while you're away.

Remember to let you relatives and friends know that you are going into hospital.

Make sure you tell them:

  • which hospital you are going to
  • the hospital switchboard number - this should be on your admission letter
  • which ward you are staying on, if you know

If you are employed or carry out volunteer work, make sure you let the person in charge know.

This is so they can:

  • make sure your role is covered while you are away
  • look at any adjustments they may need to make to your role and/or working environment before your return

If you currently receive care and support from us, you should let your support worker know you are going into hospital if you:

  • expect to be in hospital for a while - they will inform anyone who currently provides you with care of support services
  • are going into hospital for a day surgery appointment and you know you will need specific care and support afterwards - they can arrange for an assessment of your needs or signpost you to other organisations that can provide the support you need (use the usual contact details you have for them and let them know)

You must tell the office that pays your benefits as soon as possible if you:

  • go into hospital for one night or longer
  • stay in a care home or rehabilitation centre for one night or longer
  • will miss a Jobcentre Plus appointment because you’re in hospital or have a medical appointment

A friend or relative can call for you.

Your claim might be stopped or reduced if you do not report a hospital stay.

Learn more about going into hospital if you get benefits.

Making plans for those you care for

If you are an adult carer, you may be worried about who will care for your loved one while you are in hospital.

We have a range of services available to support adult carers, including advice on arranging care so you can take a break from your caring role.

If you have children, plan who will take care of them while you are staying in hospital. This can be tricky and vary depending on your personal circumstances.

If you do not have a partner, talk to family or friends who may be able to help.

Support and safeguarding hub

If you have no one who can help you, you can contact our support and safeguarding hub. A social worker will be able to discuss your situation with you and talk through the next steps to find a solution and make sure your children are looked after.

Normal office hours

  • Monday to Thursday: 8:30am to 5pm
  • Friday: 8:30am to 4:30pm

Outside normal working hours

If you need to talk to someone urgently outside of normal working hours, you can contact our emergency duty team.

A telephone operator will answer your call and take your details. They will pass them to the emergency team who will return your call as soon as possible.

There may be times when they are dealing with several enquiries or carrying out an urgent assessment - you’ll be advised on any potential delays when you call.

If you live with animals, here are some ways you can make sure they are cared for while you are away.

You could:

  • ask a neighbour: if you are not going to be in hospital for long, you could ask a neighbour to pop in regularly to check on animals like fish, birds, or reptiles
  • speak to family or friends: you could ask our family or friends to stay in your home whilst you are away to look after your pets (alternatively, your pets could be guests in your family or friend’s homes)
  • use a pet sitter: consider contacting a professional pet sitter, who can stay in your home whilst you are away, or move your pet in with them - learn more about pet sitters on the NarpsUK website
  • send your pet on holiday: there are a range of local dog kennels and catteries available who offer pet boarding services - if you do not have one you usually go to, you could ask friends or family for recommendations and you can also view a list of businesses who are licensed to provide boarding
  • reach out to The Cinnamon Trust: if you are aged 60 or over, or in the later stages of a terminal illness, you could contact The Cinnamon Trust, a national charity who can look after a variety of different animals while their owners are in hospital (this is a free service but relies on volunteers, so it has limited capacity in some areas)

Preparing your home

Take these steps to make sure you have prepared for the time away from your home:

Think about any services you will not need while you are in hospital.

You could:

  • contact your milk delivery service to cancel any milk, bread, or juice deliveries
  • make sure you contact your newsagents to cancel newspapers or magazines
  • suspend any online subscriptions, such as with Amazon or pet food deliveries
  • consider using Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service if you have no one to collect our mail - they will hold onto your mail for up to 2 months and deliver when you return to your home

Here are some tips to keep your home safe and secure while you are in hospital.

You should:

  • switch off all electrical appliances
  • shut down water at the mains
  • turn central heating off (or if it’s likely to freeze, leave it on a low heat to protect your pipes from bursting)
  • make sure that your windows and doors are locked
  • consider asking someone you trust, like a family member or friend, to look after your house keys and valuables - it is also worth asking them to check on your property to do routine things like clear the letterbox and water plants

When you get home from hospital you are likely to have a period of recovery before you feel like yourself again.  

Try to prepare for this so you are more comfortable when you return, for example:

  • think about which rooms you’ll be spending most of your time in when you come out of hospital and put things in easy reach, such as the TV control, a radio or box of tissues
  • check how your furniture is situated - is there a clear path through your home so you are less likely to trip or fall?
  • you may want to reorganise your kitchen so your kettle and tea or coffee is near the kitchen sink, and you have a good stock of food that is easy to prepare
  • in your bedroom, if you are only going into hospital for a short time, you might want fresh bedding on the bed and a good book on your bedside table

For more hints and tips, check out guidance for making your home a safe environment.

Preparing yourself for hospital

Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself for hospital:

Make sure you read your admission letter, so you understand:   

  • where you need to go and for what time
  • if you need to refrain from eating before you go into hospital
  • what are you having done, and what to expect afterwards

If you know you’re going to be in hospital for some time, it’s worth making a list of what to take. It can be easy to miss something, especially during what can be a stressful time. If you’re admitted in an emergency, this list might come in handy for your family and friends to refer to.


  • any medicines you take - ideally in their original packaging
  • change of clothes, including underwear
  • nightwear, dressing gown and slippers
  • toothbrush and toothpaste or denture pot and cleaner
  • shampoo, conditioner and soap or body wash
  • shaking kit and hairbrush or comb
  • bath towel, hand towel and face cloth
  • glasses, and any walking or hearing aids

Other things to bring:

  • face covering or mask to wear while in hospital
  • money for phone calls or things from the hospital shop
  • mobile phone and charger
  • notebook and pen to write down any questions
  • things to pass the time, such as books, magazines or puzzles

Things not to bring:

  • valuable items, such as jewellery or large amounts of money – the hospital is unlikely to have somewhere safe for you to keep them on the ward
  • large bags or suitcases – storage space will be limited on the ward
  • tablet devices or laptops – unless you are not concerned about the risk of them being stolen

Make sure you know how you are getting to hospital. If you do not have anyone who can take you, find out options for getting to and from hospital.

Before you go into hospital, we recommend that you do the following (if you can):

  • have a bath or shower
  • wash your hair
  • cut your nails
  • put clean clothes on

More about going into hospital

You can find more help and support with going into hospital on the Northampton General Hospital website.

Last updated 12 February 2024