Lack of home care keeps elderly in hospital longer

But, but, but – hospitals are fined for bed-blocking!!! Except in East Devon – where there are almost no beds to block. Which makes you wonder how early-discharge elderly people are really coping.

“Older people spent twice as long stuck in hospital waiting for home help last year compared with five years ago, according to analysis by Age UK.

Patients spent a total of a million nights in hospital because they were waiting for social care of one kind or another in 2016-17, up 27 per cent on the year before, the charity’s report said.

Some 342,000 of these nights were spent waiting for care in their own homes, up from 144,000 in 2011-12. The official figures are considered to be an underestimate, with NHS and council leaders arguing over who is to blame.

Doctors and academics said separately that families should urge elderly relatives to take the stairs and go for walks to help them carry on living independently.

Writing in The BMJ, they also said that hospitals must encourage elderly patients to walk around wards and perform chair-squats to halt dangerous declines that condemn them to care homes.

Scarlett McNally, an orthopaedic surgeon and lead author, said that there had been too much discussion of how to pay for social care and not enough on how to avoid the need for it in the first place. “Loss of fitness is not inevitable,” she said.

Nights in hospital cost about five times as much as a care home. Help at home with tasks such as washing and dressing is cheaper again.

Plans to reform social care have been delayed until next year after Theresa May dropped an election campaign pledge to require older people to pay more towards their care, widely dubbed a “dementia tax”.

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said that the charity’s analysis showed the “impact of our failing social care system on the NHS, as well as on older people”, adding that it cost the taxpayer more than £173 million last year. She said that more people were “marooned” in hospital, risking infection and losing muscle while they were fit to leave.

The Local Government Association said that 60 per cent of delays were due to the NHS, adding: “Councils are doing all they can to try and help people live independently . . . But with unprecedented funding cuts since 2010 and social care services facing a £2.3 billion funding gap by 2020, this is becoming increasingly difficult.”

David Oliver, vice-president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “Some delays are due to systematic cuts to social care budgets and provision. Others are due to a serious lack of capacity in community healthcare services.”

Times (pay wall)

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