Preventing Hospital-Acquired Deconditioning

Supporting your recovery and return home from hospital.

Long periods of time in bed leads to muscle weakness. The longer you stay in bed, the harder it may be to get up and do the things that you would normally do at home. This is called deconditioning.

Deconditioning can occur very quickly during a hospital stay, particularly for older patients. This is because being in hospital can make it easier to remain in bed for long periods of time. However lying down all day and being inactive can have significant implications for a person’s recovery.

In our hospitals we want all our patients to recover quickly and be ready for home as soon as possible, as most people really start their recovery properly at home.

Deconditioning can lead to:

  • Reduced mobility
  • Reduced balance
  • Falls
  • Reduced independence
  • Reduced muscle mass and strength
  • Increased risk of constipation
  • Urinary problems
  • Low mood
  • Worsening cognition (thinking and processing)
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Increased risk of blood clots


I am in hospital so I must wear pyjamas.

Fact: We encourage patients to get up and get dressed in their own clothes wherever possible, it makes people feel better and more like their normal selves.

I am in hospital so I need to stay in bed to get better.

Fact: Staying in bed will actually put you at a higher risk of further and additional complications, such as constipation, muscle weakness, chest infections and a higher risk of falls.

I can only walk in hospital with help from physiotherapists.

Fact: Nursing staff on the wards can support with your mobility.

Deconditioning is a natural part of aging, and we can’t do anything about it.

Fact: Regular mobility and physical exercise can prevent and reverse deconditioning.

My loved one has had some falls, so it’s better and safer for them to stay in bed.

Fact: Staying in bed causes weakness, and can contribute to lack of confidence and balance so may increase a risk of falls.

What can I do to prevent deconditioning?

To reduce the impact of deconditioning during a hospital stay we encourage patients to do the following:

Advice for families and carers

Families and carers have a vital role to play in encouraging and helping their loved one’s to stay active and recover from their illness.

During your relative’s stay in hospital, you can help support their recovery by encouraging them where appropriate to sit up, or get out of bed, when you come to visit. Encouraging them to get up, get dressed and sit out of bed, helps them to stay independent, maintain their muscle strength, and recover more quickly from their illness.

Our nursing and therapy teams are here to help and we can work together with you and your loved one, to ensure they get the care and support needed whilst in hospital.

Further support

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