The NHS is struggling to keep up with the winter season’s unprecedented demand. “with near record highs of people in hospital who are medically fit to leave and a high number of beds occupied in hospitals across England.” (Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS England)
As of January 19th, “hospitals remain under significant pressure with bed occupancy at the second highest level recorded this winter….More than 19 in 20 beds were occupied across adult general and acute hospital wards (95.7%) … over 14,000 beds were taken up by patients who no longer needed to be there…the second highest ever recorded and 12% higher than the same period last year (12,498).” (NHS England)
Staff shortages don’t help, but part of the problem is the backlog of patients waiting to be discharged. As many as 13,000 beds a day are being occupied by patients who are fit to leave but can’t, because care and respite homes are also full. The NHS’s home care services are likewise stretched to breaking point, and with nurses leaving trusts at a rate of 15% last year, the situation isn’t likely to improve any time soon.
Here, expert from The Mobility Furniture Company identify four effective and affordable home solutions. All of which can help patients return home quicker and reduce pressure on the NHS.
Help at home agencies
Services like Elder Home Care provide full-time, live-in carers to assist with everything from administering medication, bathroom routines and meal preparation. Some can also provide domiciliary care or temporary care so family caregivers can have a break. Rates for home carers start at around £20 per hour or £800 per week, and there’s no waiting list.
Home adjustments that can make life easier include ramps, stair rails, commodes, personal alarms, sensor lights and hospital beds. As well as having several medical benefits, these adjustable beds have extra safety features like side rails, wheels and adjustable height, also reducing the risk to carers. A swing feature, such as in the Mobility Furniture Company’s Bingley Bed, makes it possible for the user to get themselves in and out, which encourages mobility and promotes independence.
Meal delivery services
There are now dozens of meal delivery services available in the UK, with a wide range of budget options. Some services, like Cook, Oakhouse and Wiltshire Farm Foods, deliver pre-made, frozen meals that only need to be microwaved, and many cater for specific dietary requirements.
NHS Social Care
Everyone is entitled to a free assessment to determine what services and equipment they might benefit from. For those not eligible for free or subsidised services, or for those who don’t wish to wait, these can be arranged and paid for privately, or the council can arrange them and bill afterwards. Many charities, such as The Silver Line or Age UK, also provide support and advice.
“The public can also help by using the best services for their condition – 999 in an emergency and otherwise 111 online, and there is still time to get vaccinations if eligible.” (NHS England)
The bottom line
With an increasingly ageing population and continued staff shortages, the number of beds available in respite and care homes will likely fall short of demand for some time. Affordable home solutions may be the best way for some patients to return home, and by decreasing the chances of readmittance and help save the NHS in the long term.
If you found this content useful, you’ll find more tips and comment on caring for loved ones at home on our Care and Carers channel.Tags: home care Last modified: February 1, 2023