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Respiratory discharge support – a guide for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory diseases

Read our guide below about the respiratory discharge support team for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory diseases

You can also download a PDF version of this patient information by following the link on the right.

What is the discharge support team and why have I been referred?

You have been referred to the discharge support team because you have had a ‘flare-up’ of COPD.

The respiratory team has decided that you do not need to stay in the hospital for the treatment of your flare-up. Instead, you can receive treatment at home under close supervision from our discharge support team.

Who we are

We are a multi-disciplinary team that includes specialist and community nurses, respiratory doctors, therapists, and pharmacists.

What will my treatment at home include?

It will be the same as you would have received in hospital. This may include:

  • antibiotics and steroid tablets
  • inhaled and/or nebulised medications
  • oxygen therapy if your blood oxygen level is low.

We’ll give you a list of your treatments and medications to take home with you.

How safe is treatment at home?

Research has established that for a carefully selected group of patients with COPD flare-ups, treatment can safely be delivered at home. The outcome is as good as, or better than, staying in hospital.

What happens when I go home?

Before discharge from hospital a member of the discharge team will visit you and ensure your treatment is optimal. A member of the team will then arrange to visit you at home the following day.

The support you get from the team will include home visits and telephone calls. We may discuss installing some temporary equipment which will help us assess your condition.

During these visits, we’ll monitor your progress and adjust treatment if necessary. The team will discharge you once they’re satisfied with your progress, usually 2 to 7 days after leaving hospital.

The team will return after 2 weeks to review your progress and offer advice on managing your COPD as necessary. They may also refer you to pulmonary rehabilitation.

If you do not improve as expected, the team will discuss your care and admit you to hospital without delay if required. If you do go into the hospital whilst under the care of the discharge support team, please take your COPD pack with you.

What happens after a flare up?

For most patients, once the flare-up has settled you can return to your normal treatments for your COPD.

We will lend you a nebuliser machine and any other equipment you need during your flare-up. You’ll need to return this to our team so that other patients can benefit from using the equipment.

We’ll arrange an appointment with a hospital respiratory consultant to see how you’re getting on and arrange any future investigations.

What can I do to reduce any flare ups?

We will advise you on what you can do to improve your health and make flare-ups less likely.

Advise includes:

  • stopping smoking (if you smoke)
  • helpful levels of exercise/physical activity
  • healthy eating
  • ensuring you take your inhalers
  • joining a local or online COPD patient support group.

We may also refer you to pulmonary rehabilitation. This is a course designed for patients to help improve their lung fitness to make them feel less breathless during activity.

Understanding COPD helps you recognise when things go wrong and enables you to seek medical advice to prevent deterioration.

We may advise you to keep a supply of stand-by medications along with an action plan to help you treat yourself for future flare-ups.

For more information about COPD visit the British Lung Foundation’s website.

About our patient information pages and leaflets

This patient advice is intended as general information only. We aim to make the information as up to date and accurate as possible, but please note that it is subject to change.

Always check specific advice on any concerns you may have with your doctor.

Contact us

Buckinghamshire Integrated Respiratory Service (BIRS)
Opening times
Buckinghamshire Integrated Respiratory Service (BIRS)

01296 255670

Opening times

Monday to Friday, 8.15am to 6.30pm

Weekends and bank holidays, 9am to 4.30pm

If you need medical advice out of hours please dial 111.

In the event of an emergency please call 999.