The Welsh Government has announced that it is to invest a further £20m to reduce pressure on hospitals by supporting patients in their own homes and local communities.
The money forms part of the intermediate care fund, which was originally set up with £35m from the 2014-15 budget, but for one year only.
It went to schemes to promote integrated working by health and social care services, with the aim of improving outcomes for older people and cutting pressure on unscheduled care.
Of the further £20m allocated to the fund this year, £17.5m will go on continuing projects that had proven to be successful in helping older and vulnerable people remain in their own homes.
“This will help ease pressures on hospital-based services”
The remaining £2.5m will be spent on spreading good practice from regional partnerships across Wales.
Examples of how the money has been spent so far include the introduction of “nurse navigators” in emergency departments in North Wales, which have led to admissions being avoided, faster discharges and more transfers to community hospitals.
The Welsh Government also said the investment would be “recurrent”, and would create a £20m-a-year fund.
Health and social services minister Mark Drakeford said: “The £20m we are investing in community-based services will help keep people out of hospital and in their own homes. This will help ease pressures on hospital-based services.
“The investments we’ve already made over the last 12 months have enabled health, housing and social services, along with the third and independent sectors, to work together on some very innovative projects across Wales,” he added.
“Nurses are aware that when possible, it is best to provide care in a patient’s own surroundings”
The Royal College of Nursing in Wales welcomed the investment in the intermediate care fund.
Tina Donnelly, director of RCN Wales, said: “Funds such as this are vital if we are to improve Wales’ community care infrastructures, which will allow nurses and fellow healthcare professionals provide the highest standards of the care to patients.
“We would hope to see funds allocated to those who will benefit most; with a focus on the vulnerable and elderly who can find comfort from being treated in a familiar setting, such as their homes,” she said.
“As advocates for patients, nurses are aware that when possible, it is best to provide care in a patient’s own surroundings – helping to reduce the anxiety that can be related to hospital admission,” she added.
The regional allocations for the £20m are:
- North Wales – £4.78m
- Mid and West Wales – £3.76m
- Western Bay – £3.46m
- Cwm Taf – £1.94m
- Gwent – £3.6m
- Cardiff and Vale – £2.46m