Delayed discharge from hospital in both acute and mental health sectors is a key challenge facing the NHS and local authorities.
Winter pressure on acute services places increased demand on hospitals with A&E departments, and a lack of available bed spaces due to the delay in finding suitable nursing or residential home places cause’s severe bed shortages. This is exacerbated by the lack of care packages available for people to be discharged to their homes. This all comes at a great cost to both the NHS and local authorities.
For many older people, an admission to hospital is appropriate treatment following for example a fall or the escalation of multiple long term conditions. However, following the initial intensive clinical intervention for many older people an acute hospital ward is often not the most appropriate place to make a full recovery to independence. Once the patient’s medical care needs have been met, then the patient’s recovery will be hindered and not helped by being in a hospital environment.
For these patient’s, an immediate return home may not be appropriate but a stay in an extra care facility which can reintroduce them to the skills of daily living, identify any support needs from aids and adaptions and so realign the services from medical to social.
One way to help alleviate the cost to the NHS and help local authority funding stretch further, is by setting up purpose built extra care facilities. These facilities would include occupational therapists, physio and speech therapists, district nurses and other care providers to provide an enablement service to act as a stepping stone from hospital to home.
These types of facilities would ease the burden on the NHS by allowing earlier discharge from acute beds (freeing up hospital beds) and helping with so called bed blocking. These facilities would negate the need for a care home stay thereby saving money from an already stretched social services budget and have a much better long term health benefit on the patient. Elderly patients lose up to 5% of muscle strength for every day they are laid up in hospital.