No Silver Bullet to the Winter Crisis, But Partnership Working and Tech Can Help

There are many theories relating to why the 17/18 winter crisis has taken place, while the Aussie flu has exacerbated the situation it is not the underlying cause. Directors of Adult Social Care, alongside Health professionals were concerned about the strain on the NHS before winter started due to lack of funding and resources. Let’s be honest - the NHS and care sector are chronically underfunded, and this has been a major challenge and concern over the last few years. While a large part of the NHS and wider Care Sector do impressively well with the resources they have, other parts follow idiosyncratic processes that would not and do not exist in other industries. Under this financial stress, it is time for action, time to focus on practical transformation in areas that can be addressed rather than waiting for a single silver bullet (that does not exist).

Delayed Transfer of Care: Analysing the problem

Delayed transfers of care (DToC) is an issue that has been in the public spotlight as of late. It wastes valuable NHS resources and when you look into the factors that cause DToC you can understand why as it is a complex area. Proactive Local Authorities and Health teams can look to combat the issue through identifying its causes and addressing them. Between Nov 2016 and Nov 2017, 26% of DToC was caused by awaiting nursing home and residential care home placement or availability. This highlights one of the main causes and an area worthy of transformation. Hertfordshire County Council, Herts Care Provider Association and their Health Partners looked into how Hospital Discharge teams booked spaces and decided that this was an area that needed transformation.

Choosing OLM as a software development partner, they set out on the journey to develop a digital solution to act as a Booking.com for nursing and residential homes.

Modernising service delivery

The previous process was very manual and time-consuming. It involved calling around to all the care homes in the local area as they had no real-time information in which to find vacancies and book online. Teams were employed to call round to the homes and place individuals into the appropriate environment or ensure that care at home was arranged. This process could take hours and the knock-on effect for people, especially the elderly and most vulnerable was that they could be left in the hospital, when they were fit to leave.

For each day that an elderly patient is kept in hospital, they lose 5% of their body strength. Leaving them in the hospital can lead to further complications and potential health issues. This is not person-centred care and can lead to additional infections or problems that can result in additional bed days being required. With the estimated cost of a bed in a hospital being £400 per day, any new steps that local authorities can take to ensure that people are in and out as soon as they are fit and healthy, is essential.

The problem will only get worse without action!

At the end of last year a BBC article suggested that by the end of 2018 up to 3,000 elderly people will be unable to get a bed in a care home. Why? Research conducted by the BBC’s You and Yours showed that in the past three years, one in every 20 UK care homes has closed. This is primarily due to unoccupied beds, which given the current problems associated with delayed transfers of care, points to problems relating to the process rather than there not being enough people requiring care.

The process of looking for a vacancy is not only costing the NHS millions each year, it is also costing local authorities. By implementing solutions such as OLM’s BedFinder, councils have been able to make proven annual savings of up to £250,000 by making the best use out of the care home beds in their area.

Useful Links

Hertfordshire County Council Care Home Vacancy Public Search - https://www.hertscaresearch.org/

Powered by OLM’s BedFinder digital solution

http://www.olmsystems.com/products/bedfinder-care-home-bed-vacancy-and-booking-software

Join the discussion on #ReadyforWinter

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