NHS will have to make better use of social care solutions
Today’s news that last year, 29 per cent of hospital beds were taken up by people who didn’t need to be there, should be a wake-up call that this country is still not getting enough integration between health and social care.
This is the message from Care UK this week – a company that has practical solutions to help older people from spending unnecessary time in hospital.
Care UK’s chief executive Mike Parish said: “A well commissioned social care service can help reduce hospital admissions by managing people’s health needs in their own homes or, where greater levels of nursing are involved, in residential care settings. This can save the NHS money – hospital beds are many times more expensive to provide than respite care in a nursing home. But equally importantly, it is a better solution for patients – no-one wants to be hospital unless it is absolutely necessary,”
A practical example of this is already underway on the south coast where Care UK has been contracted by NHS Sussex and Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group to provide a healthcare rehabilitation service that dedicates 20 beds in its Darlington Court home, in Rustington to helping older people become strong enough to return home or to return to hospital fit enough to receive life-changing follow-up surgery.
The service ensures that people can receive the right support and treatment to recover, recuperate and regain their strength and mobility in a homely environment until they are fit enough to return home. It provides a cost-effective alternative to a stay in an acute hospital and is also popular with people who do not need the intense medical environment of a hospital and who often find the more informal atmosphere, without restricted visiting hours, more relaxing and conducive to recovery.
To help residents with recuperation, the home has a gym and offers an extensive occupational therapy and physiotherapy service. In addition, the Darlington Court team organise workshops on how to avoid falls and classes that help to build upper body strength to try and prevent further fractures and injuries from falls.
Another area where Care UK works hard to prevent unnecessary hospital stays is through providing high quality end of life care. Many homes are seeking to achieve the gold standard framework which involves working very closely with doctors and palliative care nurses to make this time as peaceful and pain-free as possible rather than moving to an unfamiliar hospital ward.
The recent acquisition of healthcare provider Harmoni will increase Care UK’s ability to improve unscheduled care and help health commissioners make sure that patients get the right treatment at the right place without unnecessarily occupying hospital beds.
Speaking last month, Mike Parish, Care UK’s chief executive said, “We understand the urgency with which the NHS needs to be able to reduce unscheduled and inappropriate hospital admissions of patients who can and should receive treatment elsewhere. We are now well placed to help commissioners within the NHS make the most effective use of their resources, making sure that unscheduled treatment, including out of hours needs, takes place in the most appropriate setting.”
Last year the Dr Foster team undertook a one-off piece of research around the experiences of NHS patients undergoing hip and knee operations and reported that Care UK’s treatment centres were the best in the country for hip replacements and in the top five for knee operations.