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New home care guide hopes to ease pressure on hospitals

It explains how better help, support and planning can prevent readmissions

Mark Gould

Friday, 06 November 2015

A new brief guide, Better Use of Care at Home, has been developed to help people newly discharged from hospital get the most help and support from home care services and help reduce unneccessary readmissions.

The guide has been produced by the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHA) and considers the individual's journey, from admission through to their hospital stay, and then helping them to remain at home.

It provides practical tips, case studies and ideas to improve processes, relationships and the use of care at home.

When arranged appropriately, care at home enables people to live independently and in a familiar environment for longer, providing continuity through frequent contact.

A 2013 poll conducted by Saga and Populus found that nine out of 10 people aged 50 years or over would prefer to receive care at home than elsewhere.

Yet data from NHS England on delayed transfers of care shows that people who were ready to be discharged remained in hospital for more than 250,000 extra days due to a lack of homecare services in the twelve months to September 2015.

That represents a 61% increase on the previous year, and waiting for a package of homecare is now the most common social care related reason for delayed transfers of care.

UKHA policy officer Dominic Carter, says that making better use of services providing care at home is an increasingly important challenge for the health and social care sectors as winter approaches.

"For too many people, being able to go back home does not occur quickly enough. There are a host of possible reasons for this: gaps in information sharing between hospitals and care providers; a lack of understanding of the timescales and requirements related to generating care at home capacity; inadequate knowledge of the variety of care at home services; and failing to involve care at home in a multi-disciplinary approach."

He said the guide was produced by a group of key organisations involved across the care at home sector, many of whom have had frustrating experiences of the reasons listed above and were keen to offer some possible approaches that could lead to improvements.

He concluded: "We are confident that the quick guide, as part of a suite of quick guides around urgent care, offers food for thought to local authorities and CCGs struggling with delayed transfers of care, complete with examples identifying where discharge models are working best."

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