Kathleen and Derek Parsons sat down in their home

Kathleen and Derek Parsons

A bad fall is enough to leave anyone feeling vulnerable and shaken. The British Red Cross can’t catch you as you fall – unless one of our staff or volunteers just happens to be at the right place at the right time! But we can help you pick up the pieces afterwards.

When Derek Parsons stumbled in his garden, he smashed his glasses, broke his hearing aid and ended up with a bleeding cut around his left eye.

Without his ‘eyes and ears’, the 83-year-old was understandably shaken. His wife and son gave him comfort as he waited for an ambulance to arrive.

Later at Poole hospital in Dorset, Derek ended up needing 15 stitches and was kept in overnight. Fortunately he hadn’t broken his eye socket as feared, so was free to go home the next day.

Except Derek had no way of getting home. His wife Kathleen doesn’t drive and his adult sons were either tied up at work or looking after children.

Stuck in hospital

Derek’s situation isn’t unique. Many people get the all clear to leave hospital but lack transport or don’t have someone who can support them as they recover at home. So they end up stuck at hospital due to no fault of their own.

To help bridge this gap, the Red Cross runs around 64 “assisted discharge services” in hospitals across the UK – including Poole. Our staff and volunteers help transport discharged patients, just like Derek, home.

And luckily for Derek, a nurse at the hospital suggested this service. Within no time one of our support workers arrived to collect him.

“The Red Cross lady, Christine, was lovely. Because I was still a bit shaken and had no glasses or hearing aid, she wheeled me out in a wheelchair to a private car and put a lovely rug around me.

“It was a great service and really helped us out at a bit of a traumatic time,” Derek said.

More than a lift

The service is more than just a lift home. We provide practical and emotional support to make sure people are safe and comfortable back in their own homes following a traumatic event.

Some may have had a fall like Derek. Others have been admitted to hospital for a host of other reasons. Either way, any stay in hospital can leave someone feeling vulnerable. The prospect of returning home can be daunting.

A helping hand to get them home and settled may sound simple, but it has a huge impact on the patient.

In Derek’s case, we got him home safely and collected medication for his eye. Others may need help getting the food shopping in, collecting dentures or even walking the dog.

For the first 72 hours after a person has been discharged, we will make sure they’ve got everything they need to help them adjust to being back at home.

Could you be that helping hand?

Because of the success of this service, we’re launching another with Poole hospital and are looking for fantastic volunteers to join us. Find out how you can become a volunteer.