Home is where the heart is and when it comes to recovery, most people like to do so from the comfort and safety of their own surroundings. That’s why we are working hard to make the care we deliver locally to you the best we can across Kent and Medway. Meet Discharge Lead Becky May and patient Graham, to find out how vital local care services worked together to help get him home.

Before his fall last Christmas, retired engineer Graham May was in fairly good health.

The 72 year-old from Challock, near Ashford was enjoying his passion of tending to his beautiful garden when, in his own words, “I just found myself flat on the ground. I realised I hadn’t actually fallen over anything, my legs had given way under me.”

Graham who retired early from his job as chief engineer for the English National Opera due to arthritis, was taken to Victoria Hospital in Deal for some rehabilitation to help him back on his feet.

It was here he first met East Kent Discharge Lead for Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust Becky May.

Becky’s calling in life is helping people get home safely. An experienced nurse, she tracks every patient in her area coming into a community hospital and works with them to organise a safe discharge home – crucially when they are ready and supported to do so.

From first meeting Graham, it was clear to Becky he would need a lot of extra support. Graham’s wife Zoe has bipolar and he is her carer. Becky’s priority was making sure the right help was in place for both Graham and Zoe, to make sure he could recover well at home and also to prevent an unnecessary readmission back into hospital.

Unfortunately, Graham became critically ill when he contracted a nasty infection in a pressure sore and he was transferred from the community hospital in Deal to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford where he was treated for pneumonia and possible sepsis.

Becky’s involvement was put on hold while Graham was at the William Harvey while she focused on other patients ready for discharge, but she kept a track of his progress and met him again when he was transferred to the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Herne Bay for further rehabilitation.

She said: “Within 24 hours of a patient coming into a hospital bed, we have to set a discharge date. This is based on a number of factors including the input of the community hospital team, so it’s a real collaborative effort to make sure the right help is in place.

“Because I knew Mrs May needed support, I linked in with Kate Ingrams, a mental health nurse at Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust to make sure she was ready for Graham to come home.”

For Graham, this was a huge relief. He said: “I had absolutely had enough of being in hospital. Five months is a long stretch and I really wanted to go home. I had no idea this service was available and was really worried I would have to go into a care home because I knew my wife wouldn’t be able to look after me on her own.

“As soon as I met Becky, that worry just evaporated away. She has been absolutely marvellous.”

Following an assessment, it became clear that Graham’s physical recovery had improved as much as it could and he was not able to get confidently back on his feet.

Once again, Becky sprang back into action to make sure even though he was bedbound, Graham could still go back to his own home.

She said: “I linked in with social services to make sure we could set up a carers package to help Graham get washed and dressed in the morning and ready for bed in the evening and we also put a meal delivery service in place for both Zoe and Graham for the first week after he returned home so they could adjust to their new home life.

“My job is to be the patient’s advocate and I knew how much Graham wanted to go home. His care required a multi-disciplinary team approach and the key to all this is making sure you have really good links with lots of professionals across all the different health and care organisations in the area.

“A big part of my job is building relationships with people, negotiating what we can provide and I always keep in mind what the perfect service looks like for each patient. It helps that I have a really great contact list now. It helps me do my job and it is the right thing for the patient. Everybody wins.”