What to expect if you have to stay in hospital

exp date isn't null, but text field is

Return to home page

If you are admitted to hospital due to an exacerbation (flare up) of your respiratory condition, it is important that you know what to expect, and that you ask for any services which are not offered to you.  Currently, these notes relate specifically to admissions for COPD.

Please be aware that, due to Covid, we may not be able to offer all the services detailed below - until further notice

Your hospital stay

You've been admitted to hospital with an "exacerbation" or "flare up" of your COPD. This can be a frightening experience for you and your family. We want to do our best to help you with your recovery.

During this admission you should expect to be actively involved in your own care and be offered the opportunity to discuss how you wish to be treated.

Normally, people coming in with COPD can expect to be well enough to go home within five days, although they may go home sooner if they feel well enough. You can expect your nurse or doctor to discuss when is best for you to go home. Staff will talk about planning for going home with you and your family. You may go home on any day of the week.

Treatments during your stay

During your hospital stay there are treatments which you can expect to help you get better and to help you stay well in future.

  1. You should see a consultant doctor. They will be able to assess your condition and make sure the correct treatment is planned and carried out for you.
  2. You should see a respiratory specialist, either a Respiratory Consultant or Respiratory Specialist Nurse. They will help you understand your condition and will be happy to discuss it with you. They will also check that you're on the best treatment.
  3. You should see a physiotherapist who will be able to help you with methods to help your breathing and keeping your chest clear. These methods will also help once you are at home.
  4. If you need it, staff on the ward should offer you help with stopping smoking if you are ready. There is a smoking cessation advisor who can help support you.
  5. Getting the best from your medication is important. Staff should help you with your inhalers.
  6. Staff should discuss the benefits of activity with you and you may be offered a chance to attend pulmonary rehabilitation.
  7. You can expect to get help with understanding how to recognise exacerbations (also called flare ups - times when your condition gets worse). This can be different for everyone and it's useful to be able to discuss it with experienced staff.
  8. Expect staff to talk to you about ways to keep well, and discuss having rescue medications at home in case of future exacerbations.
  9. You should expect your family to have the chance to get involved with discussions with staff. You may find it useful to write down any questions you want to ask or discuss. Staff will be happy to help.
  10. Realistically, you are probably unlikely to be discharged until late afternoon on the day you go home, since you have to wait for your medicines for going home to be ready, along with a letter for your GP with details of your care.

Once you go home

  1. You should receive a telephone call from a specialist respiratory nurse three days after you get home. This is to see how you are getting on after leaving hospital.
  2. Expect to be offered the opportunity to see one of our specialist respiratory nurses within 4 weeks of being discharged.


Please go to our brief feedback survey to tell us what you think about the Respiratory Resource Hub.  We would particularly like to know if you think any information is missing, or there are other topics you would like the resource hub to cover.