Chief Executive of Care UK Mike Parish said: “Patients, particularly older people, being left languishing in hospital beds is a serious issue. Hospitals are for acute treatment and are not at all well set up to provide ongoing care for people once their illness or injury has been treated. People requiring continuing care are much better off in a fit for purpose environment, whether in their own home with specialist support, or in residential facilities which provide a bridge between hospital and home. This is especially true when palliative care is required. Bed blocking is bad news for those wanting to go home and a waste of NHS resources. To keep someone in hospital costs several times more than the cost of a purpose designed care bed in a residential home – and is usually not the preferred choice of a patient who would much rather be in more homely surroundings.”
In Middlesex, Care UK operates a specialist unit at its Woodland Hall nursing home which helps to rehabilitate older people who have been in hospital following an accident or infection. Residents stay for anything from six to twelve weeks and receive specialist support to help prepare them for returning home. It is funded by NHS Harrow, Harrow Council and the North West London Hospitals.
Mike Parish continued: “The current flu epidemic is putting huge pressure on hospital services. One way to free up beds is to make sure older people who are ready to be discharged can go home or into a residential setting that is more appropriate for their care. It will require council social service teams and PCTs to work together more closely to address this issue and ‘funding walls’ will need to be torn down. This solution saves the tax payer considerable amounts of money and improves the quality of life both for patients who no longer need to be in a hospital environment and also those waiting for a hospital appointment.”
The solution is not limited to older people. People requiring continuous care - but not necessarily hospital based care – can have a better quality of life in specialist care environments.
Care UK has a strong track record in providing alternatives to a hospital bed in such cases. Its complex care unit at the Pinetum in Chester cares for people with specialised needs including ventilator care, acquired brain injury, spinal injury, enetic neurodisability, tracheostomies and much more.
The unit offers both permanent and temporary complex care as well as step down care for people to come from hospital into a more homely environment whilst they recuperate or their own home is being adapted. One such patient was Mark Boniface who came to live at the home after a diving accident left him paralysed from the neck down.