West Berkshire Council has announced that it will take over a local care home, with the aim using part of it to expand rehabilitation capacity and speed up hospital discharge.
The local authority will take on the running of the Birchwood Care Home from an independent provider on 1 June this year.
“Adult social care is an area we are committed to investing in, now and in the future”
The 60-bed care home, located between Newbury and Thatcham, provides both nursing and residential care for people with dementia.
The home is currently operated under contract by Care UK. The council said the contract, which expires in June, would not be renewed to enable it to bring the service “in house”.
The council said it would use part of the home as a halfway house between hospital and social care by providing more rehabilitation beds for patients ready for discharge.
The move would allow hospital beds to be “freed up while a long term placement is being arranged”, it said in a statement today.
A council spokeswoman told Nursing Times that the number of beds given over to rehabilitation was “likely to be no more than 10”.
Council takes over care home to cut discharge delays
Rick Jones, West Berkshire’s executive member for adult social care, said: “The council faces a constant challenge to support patients when they are discharged from hospital.
“The decision to invest in care provision at Birchwood will enable the adult social care service to use the resource more effectively,” he said.
Mr Jones said it would have a “positive impact” on older people, as it would “relieve bed blocking, stress for their families and allow them to receive nursing care within the district”.
“While the council continues to face a challenging financial environment, adult social care is an area we are committed to investing in, now and in the future,” he added.
Care UK regional director Daniel Turner-Naylor said: “The contract we hold with West Berkshire Council to run Birchwood comes to a natural end in June this year.
“We understand that the council is not planning to re-let the contract and will instead be operating the home itself,” he said. ”Our priority now is to work with colleagues at council to ensure a smooth handover of the management of the home.”
Mary Sherry, deputy chief executive and chief operating officer of the nearby Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, welcomed the initiative.
“It will help ensure that patients discharged from the Royal Berks to Birchwood continue to get the best healthcare and rehabilitation support locally,” she said.
“Currently we do face a high number of delayed discharges, so this new local authority facility will greatly help the hospital by ensuring that patients fit for discharge have somewhere to go, freeing up acute beds for very sick patients,” she added.