National Discharge and Community Services Manager
On March 31 the existing schemes which have funded care for people discharged from hospital will come to an end. These schemes have covered costs for up to six weeks care in the community while patients receive rehabilitation and assessments, and long-term care is arranged. This funding had a direct impact on patient flow by removing a lot of the issues traditionally associated with delays including choice and decisions on funding.
While patients have moved quickly out of hospital into community beds the move from temporary community beds to long term care has not been as quick in all circumstances. There are patients who received funding in the initial phases of the pandemic who have not yet been moved into long term arrangements.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of Boris Johnson announcing the national lockdown and the last 12 months have been a huge challenge for all organisations involved in health and care. While it’s important to acknowledge the huge efforts as well as the toll of the pandemic there is no doubt that difficult times lie ahead as well. It’s predicted elective surgery waiting lists could balloon to around 8 million people by the autumn.
Patient flow lies at the centre of reducing these waiting lists. Last week the government committed to £594m funding from April to September 2021 to enable patients to leave hospital as quickly and as safely as possible, with the right community or at-home support.
While it is unclear at this stage how different areas will deploy this funding. What is really important, to ensure this funding has the biggest impact, is that as patients leave hospital dedicated support is available moving them through rehabilitation and assessments so that they are able to settle into long terms care as quickly as possible.
Schemes 1 + 2 have been a success on the whole but too often six weeks funding has been seen as a given and this slows down patient flow and reduces capacity in the community. With the right focussed support moving assessments forward, making arrangements for long term care and supporting families in decision making we can maintain flow as well as make sure people have the right care in the right place at the right time.