Staying with us in hospital

Staying with us in hospital

We want your stay with us in hospital to be as comfortable as possible and we want to get you home as soon as it is medically safe to do so.

Home is the best place for most people to improve their well-being, independence and recover faster.

We understand that coming into hospital can be an anxious time and we will do all we can to put you at ease and support you during your visit. Please find below some information to help you prepare and know what to expect during your stay.

Useful leaflets

Depending on which hospital you are going to, you can download useful information to help you plan for your stay.

Additional patient guidance due to Coronavirus

Please visit our COVID-19 pages to get the latest updates and guidelines - click here

This includes information on face coverings, social distancing and restricted visiting times.


Before you arrive

1) Read your letter carefully 

Read your appointment letter carefully, it will explain what you need to know, where you need to go and anything you need to do to prepare. 

2) Inform us of any special requirements

Please inform us of any special requirements before you arrive at our services, so we can do our best to support you. See below for more information on the support available.  

3) Plan your journey

Make arrangements to get to the hospital.

Visit 'Our Sites' page for information on how to reach our different hospitals, including links to public transport and other sustainable travel options. 

Visit our 'NHS Supported Patient Transport' page if you need assistance getting to your appointment, to see if you are eligible for this service. 

4) Other things you can do to prepare

  • Don’t forget to cancel deliveries such as newspapers or milk and to make arrangements for your pets.
  • If you receive a pension or state benefit please tell the Benefits Agency that you are coming into hospital.

If you require special support

Special support

At the Royal Devon we aim to provide a service that is user friendly and easily accessible to all.

Please inform the ward/department you are attending in advance (as outlined in your hospital appointment letter) if you require any special support, for example, if: 

  • you have a disability or mobility problems
  • you use special equipment, such as a hoist or a support chair 
  • you prefer to have written information in large print
  • you want us to translate information into a language other than English 
  • you want us to provide information through British Sign Language 

Please visit our 'Accessibility, support and learning disability' pages for more information on the support available. 

Dementia patients

People with dementia are often more confused and frightened when in hospital. We are committed to providing the very best care possible for our patients with dementia and delirium at Royal Devon. Please visit our 'Dementia and delirium' pages for more information.

What to bring with you

What should I bring?

We advise that you plan on being in hospital for only a short time and bring a small bag with a few essentials for your wellbeing and comfort, including:  

  • Any medicines, tablets or inhalers that you take, including prescriptions, medicines that you have bought or alternative medicines, such as herbal remedies (it is vital that we know about all of your medication)
  • Nightwear, dressing gown, slippers and comfortable daywear as you will be encouraged to get up if possible
  • Toiletries and tissues (more hygienic than handkerchiefs) and wet wipes; a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant and any other toiletries such as shaving equipment
  • Bath towel and a flannel or sponge
  • Sanitary products such as tampons or sanitary towels if required
  • Something to read
  • Any aid that you would normally use - for example, spectacles, walking frame, stick, crutches, wheelchair, prosthesis
  • A bottle of squash, if you want
  • Private insurance details if appropriate
  • Items of religious or spiritual importance
  • Small change for purchasing any small items you may want day to day, such as newspapers
  • An eye mask and earplugs might help you sleep better – despite our best efforts, wards can generate noise and these items can reduce background interruptions, improving your sleep and recovery

Please do not bring: 

  • Large amounts of money
  • Jewellery, valuable items or anything with strong sentimental value;
  • Alcohol or tobacco.

Storing things safely

Please use the pink patient property baskets, if available, next to your bed to store small personal items such as dentures, hearing aids and spectacles to prevent them from getting lost. If a basket is not available then please ask our ward staff for somewhere to put your small items.

If you have to bring valuables please ask a nurse to store them safely and get a receipt.

The Trust cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage to items that you did not give us for safe-keeping.

We strongly suggest high-cost items such as digital hearing aids are insured - for instance on your home insurance.

The Trust will not support claims for high-cost hearing aids. 

MY CARE Clinical Transformation Programme

MY CARE improves the experience for patients, staff and carers by connecting people and information, using a new single electronic patient record (EPR) system. No matter where your care is provided, in hospital, community clinics or at home, our clinical teams will have the information they need at their finger tips to provide you with the best care possible.

This means that doctors, nurses and therapists will be using electronic devices when they see you as an inpatient, outpatient or in your home, to document information in a fast and efficient way. Using these devices allows for information to be uploaded to your records in real time and made accessible to clinical staff across multiple sites.

We use a range of devices, including large PCs on wheels, laptops, phones and some tablets. Only qualified members of staff can access these devices and they do not store any patient information directly on them. They are not used for any personal tasks by the clinician. Devices are cleaned before and after use, following each contact with a patient.

You may also be interested in signing up for our MY CARE. This gives you easy and secure access to your health records and more control of your health and wellbeing.

Click here for more information about MY CARE and to sign up

Your care in hospital

You can expect a warm welcome at the Royal Devon. We pride ourselves on providing safe, dignified, compassionate and inclusive care for all.

You will be cared for under a named consultant and looked after by a team of healthcare professionals.

Below is some general information about what you can expect during your stay. Please see our  Services for further details.

A warm welcome

When you arrive on the ward, a member of staff will welcome you and show you where to go. Please ask us if there is anything you need or don't understand. We are here to support you.

Identifying you

You will be given an identification wristband to wear when you are admitted. This is so we can safely identify you at all times. Please check your details are correct and tell the ward staff if they are not. It is important that you wear the wristband at all times during your stay. If it becomes detached, uncomfortable or unreadable please ask a nurse to help you.

Our staff wear ID badges, including their photograph, to help you identify who they are. Please ask to see their badge if it is not visible.

Placing you at the centre of your care

We commit to fully involving you in every aspect of your care at the Royal Devon including: 

  • Treating you with dignity and respect, focusing on what matters most to you 
  • Providing a clear explanation of your condition. Language translation can be arranged if you do not speak English or have hearing problems (please click here)
  • Discussing treatments and procedures 
  • Describing the potential benefits and risks of treatment and discussing any alternatives 
  • Asking for your fully-informed consent to any operation, procedure or treatment
  • Keeping your records confidential, in line with the Data Protection Act 1998
  • Giving you the opportunity to see your patient records if you wish, in line with the Data Protection Act 1998
  • Working with other organisations involved in your care and sharing information about you only for your benefit and as necessary, removing identifying details where possible
  • Keeping your relatives or carers informed of your progress, if you wish
  • Welcoming your comments about our service and dealing with your concerns or complaints as quickly as possible.

In return, we ask that you:

  • Give us all the necessary information about your condition, symptoms and medication
  • Treat our staff with respect
  • Help to feed yourself, keep mobile and look after personal hygiene as far as you can
  • Arrange with your family or friends to take care of your personal laundry, if possible

Same-sex accommodation

All of our accommodation is divided into same-sex bays for sleeping, with same-sex toilets and bathrooms close to the bed area. 

Sharing with members of the opposite sex will only happen when clinically necessary. If you have any queries or concerns then please discuss these with the nurse in charge.

Nutritious food

Eating nutritional food and staying well hydrated is an important part of your care and recovery. Patients are asked to fill out a menu card each day with their choices. Special dietary requirements are catered for – please ask.

We use the cook-freeze system at the hospital (used in over 300 hospitals nationally), whereby meals are freshly prepared according to national nutritional guidelines and frozen for delivery. Our housekeepers then carefully reheat meals using purpose-built trolley ovens and serve them to patients on trays in each ward.

Where possible, we encourage patients to get up for their meal and eat at their side table or at a communal table if available.


We will change your bedding as necessary, however, this may not be daily.

We regret that we cannot take care of your personal laundry. Please ask a friend or relative to bring clean clothes for you. If this is difficult, then please talk to a member of staff.

Hand Hygiene

We take hand hygiene very seriously and suitable hand hygiene facilities are available for staff whenever they are in the patient environment.

Patients and visitors are of course encouraged to practice good hand hygiene too.

For more information about our rigorous infection prevention and control, please click here.

Your wellbeing in hospital

Your road to wellbeing

Our nurses and therapists launched a campaign, ‘Your Road to Wellbeing’, to empower patients to take steps to improve their wellbeing when in hospital. By following some or all of the advice below, you may be able to increase your sense of wellbeing and independence and could even speed your recovery and return home, depending on your circumstances.

The campaign has five key topics:

Get-up, get-dressed and keep mobile

Eat and drink well 

Get the most from your medicines

Keep in mind your mental health 

Make your going home plan as soon as possible

Your skin matters

Pressure Ulcers (sometimes called pressure or bed sores) are areas of damage to the skin and underlying tissue caused by pressure and friction. At Royal Devon we do our utmost to prevent pressure skin damage and respond quickly and effectively when it occurs; our ‘Skin Matters’ campaign raises awareness of the issue and promotes learning and training amongst staff.

Click here to find out more

Additional services for your comfort


Patients, visitors and staff can now browse the Internet free of charge via their mobile device whilst visiting our sites. Select the NHS WIFI option from the list of available wireless networks on your device, and follow the on-line instructions to sign-up. 

Telephone, internet, TV and radio services

Many of our hospital beds have access to telephone, internet, TV and radio services, provided by a company called Hospedia.

You can buy TV services via your credit or debit card directly at the bedside. Once registered you will receive internet, games and radio free. Ward staff can help you set up these services. The telephone service can be used to keep in touch with family and friends outside the hospital, but please note that external calls to the bedside are charged at a higher rate than a local call.

If you would like further details on the cost of making calls to the bedside phone please call 0345 414 1234 or visit

If you have a relative or loved one staying in hospital who is unable to purchase these services for themselves, you can contact Hospedia on their behalf and buy the services for them. All you’ll need to provide is the name of the ward they are staying on and their bed number.

Pay phones are also available throughout our sites.

Other facilities & hospitality

Our hospitals have a range of other facilities to benefit you and your visitors, which vary from location to location. These may include cafes, shops, cash machines, garden areas, pay phones etc. To find out more about what is available where you are staying please click here to visit ‘Our Sites’ pages.

Hospital Radio

Both the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford) and the North Devon District Hospital have dedicated radio stations which patients can listen to free of charge - Hospital Radio Exeter and Tarka Radio 

These stations are manned by volunteers and broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, bringing you a wide variety of entertainment. Both stations are also registered charities and are financed entirely by the fundraising activities and kind donations.

Our programmes can be listened to online or on your phone via a free app. At the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford), it can also be listened to via the Hospedia entertainment system on Radio Channel 1, using the light-weight stereo headsets provided at every bed.

If you would like to make a request, listen to the show, or even donate, you can do so via the two stations' dedicated websites:

Getting you home

Think home first

Your time is precious and you should only be in hospital as long as medically necessary. There is significant evidence that home is the best place for most people to improve their wellbeing, independence and recover faster where possible.

Watch our film ‘Let’s Get You Home’ which explains the topic in more detail.

Planning together from the get-go

Our top priority is to help you get better and support you to leave hospital when the time is right. You will only leave hospital when you no longer need hospital care and it is safe to do so.

Our staff will work with you to start planning right away to ensure you leave the hospital in a safe and timely manner.

In most cases your will return home. You might need some additional care to help you in your recovery, or practical support such as help with shopping.

You may need to be discharged to a short-term care home bed and our staff can explain these to you. If you are a care home resident you will most likely return to your care home.

Getting you home for lunch

No one wants to be in hospital for longer than they need to be and we want to ensure you can leave hospital in a timely, comfortable and well-planned way.

Once you are well enough, the best place for you to recover is in the comfort of your own home.

We will always try to get you home or transferred to our discharge lounge before lunchtime.

Getting you home for lunch:

  • improves your experience and means you feel more awake at the time of discharge
  • reduces unnecessary delays
  • is safer and more convenient for patients/families/carers
  • improves your access other services if required (e.g. pharmacies / shops)
  • helps us accommodate new patients who need to be admitted

To help our patients, their families, carers and/or friends understand what they should expect from us regarding discharge and questions to ask during a hospital stay we have produced a new patient guide to discharge information leaflet and a hospital discharge handbook. These include a helpful discharge checklist (see below) to help you get home smoothly.


The Discharge Lounge - making life better for patients

Our Discharge Lounge on the RD&E Wonford site helps us to better support patients who are ready to be discharged, making things more convenient and comfortable for them. Situated close to the RD&E Wondford’s main entrance in a tranquil space with an outdoor area, the Discharge Lounge offers a restful environment for patients who are waiting to go home. There’s comfortable seating, snacks and drinks, and support available.

Staffed by registered nurses, the Discharge Lounge team care for patients as they wait to be discharged, checking that they receive their medication, ordering transport and contacting their family, friends or carer. Because of its proximity to the main entrance, it’s also more convenient for patients to get out of hospital and be picked up quickly from the main doors – so there’s no need to find a parking space!

The feedback from patients who have used the Discharge Lounge has been very positive, with one saying “It’s a good system to free up beds, and I’m happy to be off the ward, with a cup of tea and a biscuit. It’s good because it prepares you for the real world again, if you’ve been in the hospital for some time.”

Patient information leaflet - A patient guide to discharge lounge

Your checklist for discharge

  • Will someone pick you up or meet you at home?
  • If you are not fit enough to travel home alone you may be eligible for ‘NHS Patient Transport’ (click here to find out more)
  • Are your ongoing care arrangements in place?
  • Do you have suitable outdoor clothing and shoes to wear?
  • Do you have any medical certificates you may need?
  • Do you have your hospital discharge letter for your GP?
  • Do you have your medication ready to take home?
  • Do you understand how and when to take your medication?
  • Do you have your house keys and personal belongings?

Referred for Home Safety visit? Please read 'Referral for Home Safety Visit by Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service' patient information leaflet.

Your feedback matters

We want to ensure that you have the best experience possible in our care and welcome your feedback. This enables us to celebrate success, resolve queries or concerns as soon as possible and continually improve our services.

If you have any questions about your care please talk to your nurse or consultant as soon as possible.

We want to be able to deal with your worries as quickly and thoroughly as we can.

You will also be asked to feedback using a 'Patient Feedback Card’ when you visit our services. 

For further information about how to feedback please visit our 'Your Feedback Matters' page (click here).

Our 'Patient Advice and Liaison Service - PALS' (click here) are available to provide advice and hands-on support for any queries, concerns or complaints you may have.

Last updated: November 15, 2023.