Elderly people face delays leaving hospital
Being taken to hospital for illness or an accident can be disorientating for an older person. The reason for their admission can result in higher care needs once they are returned home, either in the short term during recovery or longer term if there are long-lasting effects.
As such, it is important that these new care provisions are in place before they are discharged, so that the older person can easily transition to home. However, new NHS England data shows a rise in the number of hospital beds being used by those who are unable to leave hospital, as appropriate care packages have not been arranged, preventing those that do need the beds from being admitted swiftly, creating a backup.
The statistics show that people being delayed in beds they no longer need took up 171,298 days in June 2016, a huge rise on data from the same month last year. Around 59% of these delays are due to the NHS (a shortage of doctors being a contributing factor), 32% were due to the social care sector, which is facing funding issues, and just under 8% were due to both the NHS and social care sector together. This data highlights the need for better integration of these services for a more streamlined procedure, says a NHS England spokesman in an article for The Guardian: “It’s important patients who are well enough to leave hospital can do so at the earliest opportunity, and in some parts of the country the system is working well. These figures underline the importance of joined-up care within the NHS and the dependence of hospitals on well-functioning social care services – particularly for older people living at home.” It is thought that these delays in discharging older patients costs the NHS £820m a year.
It’s certainly a worrying trend for those with elderly loved ones in hospital, as staying in hospital longer than needed can be demoralising for an older person who just wants to be at home, but on the other hand, we don’t want to see them discharged without the proper support in place.
If your loved one receives funding and/or social care services from their local authority, then their needs should be reassessed and the appropriate care put in place whether needed long term or short term. If they pay for their own care, they may still qualify for short-term help while they recover. After this time, they made need to look at the services that they are paying for and adapt them – for example, if they have their own paid carer, they made need to increase their hours or change/add responsibilities.
Coming home from hospital: what to expect (news story from May 2016)