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Avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions key to tackling delayed discharge, says CCN

Around 175,000 fewer older people could avoid being admitted to hospital if there was better community provision in place, according to a major new report.

Around 175,000 fewer older people could avoid being admitted to hospital if there was better community provision in place, according to a major new report.

The report from the County Councils Network (CCN) and Newton says this would not only improve the quality of life for thousands of older people, but it would also reduce local authority costs by £1bn per year.

More investment in community services needed to avoid hospital admissions

Finding a way home sets out how the health and social care system can work better this winter by avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions and improving patient flow.

The report looks at how to improve discharge rates of older people who are medically fit to be discharged but are stuck in hospital due to a lack of social care placements and community provision.

The CCN says that instead of buying up short-term residential care beds to discharge over 65s from hospital, the government needs broader solutions, namely greater investment and use of home-based care, community and reablement services.

This would enable more older people to avoid admission to hospital in the first place, saving money and preserving people’s quality of life.

This would also prevent older people from becoming reliant on care, which often happens when short-term settings are used, as they become more reliant on care and are then often unable to return home and care for themselves.

‘Simple discharge’ should become a national priority

As well as preventing hospital admissions, the report recommends that ‘simple discharges’ should become a national priority.

A ‘simple discharge’ occurs when no new or additional support is required to get the person home, or when such support constitutes only informal input from support agencies or a continuation of an existing health or social care support package.

Research conducted by the CCN reveals that one million bed days are lost every year because of delays to simple discharges, with every simple discharge being delayed by between one and three days on average.

These delays are therefore the largest root cause of wasted bed days, resulting in overly occupied acute hospitals, poor system flow, and compromised long-term outcomes for people.

If additional funding becomes available, the CCN says it should be directed towards councils to enable the expansion of home-based reablement and rehabilitation and to support the development of a therapy workforce. This would allow more adults to return to their own home following a stay in hospital.

Maximising social care services to speed up discharge

The report therefore concludes that a better understanding of community offers, focusing on delays caused during hospital treatment, and investing and optimising community and home-based care will help ease the discharge logjam, provide better outcomes for patients, and could reduce costs by billions each year.

The CCN says this could stop tens of thousands of unnecessary admissions each year, reduce the amount of time spent in hospital and ensure individuals are discharged to the best setting for their needs.

Cllr Martin Tett, Health and Social Care Spokesperson for the CCN, said: “We are facing into one of the most challenging winters ever for the health and social care system, with immense pressures that have built up over the last few years showing no signs of abating.

“Every bed in each hospital will be vital as acute and emergency admissions rise over the coming months, and we need to ensure we maximise the most effective use of social care services to speed up discharges and improve outcomes.

“By investing more in the right community and intermediate care, as well as enabling improved decision-making across the system, today’s report sets out a clear pathway to creating a more sustainable and effective system, helping to avoid tens of thousands of unnecessary admissions each year and speeding up discharge rates. For those that then leave hospital, it also outlines how they can get the best possible health outcomes.”

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