A new online tool has been developed with the aim of making it easier for hospital nurses to find a bed for vulnerable patients in care homes.
The “capacity tracker” is a digital database that gives real time information about bed availability in social care facilities across England.
“It really does make a difference to busy health and social care teams”
Supporters claim the tool will mean nurses will no longer have to waste time ringing around different homes and will minimise the number of delayed discharges from hospital.
The capacity tracker was developed by NHS North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS) in collaboration with NHS England North, as well as local government and social care representatives.
Ruth Holt, NHS England North’s director of nursing and independent care sector regional lead, said: “Older people in care homes are among the most complex and vulnerable in society and deserve the best care.
“By using technology to work more closely, hospitals and care homes can make sure their residents get the best care as quickly as possible and are not left in hospital waiting for a placement, vulnerable to infections, when they don’t need to be,” she said.
The development of the tool sits in line with pledges in the NHS Long Term Plan to break down barriers between care homes and the NHS, and make better use of technology to improve services and free up staff time.
“Reducing the need for nursing staff to spend all day on the phone ringing round”
Those behind the scheme said the tool offered a “shop window” for care homes across the country to share their bed capacity as well as other important information about the facility.
Such information would help nurses make the right choice for the patient about where to place them, they said.
Following its successful implementation in the North of England and in Berkshire and Devon over the last 20 months, the tracker is now being rolled out across other parts of the country.
Jonathan Maloney, programme director for the capacity tracker at NECS, said: “We are delighted to be providing the capacity tracker across England, as it really does make a difference to busy health and social care teams who need to quickly find a care home vacancy.
Director of nursing and quality assurance
“We have heard first-hand from care home managers, local authorities and clinical commissioning groups that this has made a positive difference to the way they work,” he added.
The capacity tracker can also produce reports to allow users to monitor their delayed transfers or care performance.
Health secretary Matt Hancock praised the capacity tracker during his speech at the NHS Expo 2018.
He said: “There are also many great innovations aimed at improving patient care across settings, like… the capacity tracker which enables staff to locate available beds in nearby care homes instantly – reducing the need for nursing staff to spend all day on the phone ringing round and freeing up beds in acute settings.”