Each state hospital currently has a discharge policy with the focus of planning for a discharge that is in the best interest of the patient. DSH is working on a system-wide policy to ensure consistency, including adequate chart documentation of the discharge.
It is the goal of our hospitals to help discharge a patient to the next appropriate level of mental health care when that patient is able to succeed at that level. Part of that success is having an appropriate plan upon discharge. Some aspects of the overall discharge plan are:
- Discharge planning begins at admission.
- Prior to discharge we identify benefit eligibility – Veterans, Social Security, Medi-Cal, and other benefits, so that we know what will be available to the patient in the community.
- Eligible patients are given information about, and encouraged to discharge through, the Conditional Release Program (CONREP). This is voluntary, unless court ordered. Some patients may choose not to participate in a program with structure and expected compliance, as opposed to immediate freedom.
- Discharged patients are given a written plan that includes where they are going, resources, referrals, phone numbers, and crisis intervention phone numbers.
- Discharged patients are given a supply of medication consistent with where they will be residing (up to 30 days of medication). Their plan includes how they can get their medication (through mental health resources) going forward.
- Discharged patients have either a State of California ID issued by DMV or we allow them to take their hospital identification. They need ID in order to receive services.
- Discharge plans include, but are not limited to, assisted living, skilled nursing facilities (SNF), CONREP, family, friends, county mental health facilities and shelters.
- Staff escorts patients to their destination, whether it is ConRep, a SNF, shelter or bus stop. Occasionally, family will pick them up, or will meet them at their destination.
- Our discharged patients, absent a court order otherwise, are able to make their own choices, and may choose not to follow the discharge plan.
DSH strives to always find the most supportive environment for a patient as part of the discharge plan, however the department is legally obligated to release a patient when their commitment is expired or removed by a court.