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More support for older patients urged following discharge


Almost 200,000 people over the age of 75 have left hospital without proper support, increasing the likelihood of being readmitted, according to a new report.

The Royal Voluntary Service said better support could save the NHS in England more than £40m and prevent thousands of readmissions.

Older people are vulnerable and frail during a stay in hospital, but 13% of over 75s are readmitted for treatment within three months of being discharged, said the charity’s Going Home Alone report.

Almost one in seven feels anxious at the prospect of returning home, especially those who live alone.

“A strong warning sign identified in the report is the link between early discharge and readmission”

David McCullough

David McCullough, chief executive of the Royal Voluntary Service, said: “The population is living longer, an achievement which should be celebrated – yet it is presenting a challenge for the very organisation that has helped people live longer.

“With local authority and hospital trusts facing budget cuts, we believe greater volunteer support through home-from-hospital schemes can improve the quality of older people’s lives long after a hospital stay and save the NHS millions of pounds,” he said.

Royal Voluntary Service

David McCullough

“Placing a caring volunteer at the centre of an older person’s recovery plan dramatically improves their experience, their confidence and their well-being, and helps them continue to live independent fulfilling lives,” he said. “It also drives important efficiencies in hospitals enabling swift, well-managed discharge from wards.

“A strong warning sign identified in the report is the link between early discharge and readmission,” he added.

David Buck, senior fellow in public health and inequalities at The King’s Fund, which helped with the research, said: “Well-targeted home-from-hospital support schemes could reduce the need for inappropriate and avoidable hospital readmission and other forms of care.

King's Fund

David Buck

“Whilst as a consequence this may save the NHS significant sums, their ultimate objective is better health and wellbeing of elderly people, for which there is good evidence,” he said.

The study was based on a survey of more than 400 people aged 75 and over.

The report marks the launch of the Royal Voluntary Service’s Let’s End Going Home Alone campaign, which involves the charity working in partnership with communities, local authorities and NHS Trusts to provide more volunteers in hospitals and support vulnerable older people in their homes following discharge from hospital.

Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb

Minister for care and Support Norman Lamb said: “I am delighted to give my support to this campaign – it’s absolutely right older people are given the support they need when they leave hospital and volunteers have an essential role to play.

“Our £5.3bn Better Care Fund will mean 163,000 fewer A&E visits next year and more people helped to live independently at home for longer after leaving hospital, giving older people the dignity they deserve,” he said.



Readers' comments (6)

  • michael stone

    The current 'plan' seems to require much better integration between NHS and councils (and otheres), and it isn't clear how effective that will turn out to be, or whether 'decent levels of care/support' can be achieved without more money being spent, even if [and this would probably be somewhere between 'surprising' and 'miraculous', I think] NHS and councils do achieve good integration and co-operation.

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  • So the 'plan' is that an acknowledged gap in care needed to keep elderly and vulnerable people out of hospital is to be plugged by ... volunteers! One way of keeping the health bill down and privatise the NHS in one go. Brilliant!

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  • Unless things have changed, targets to get people out of hospital do not take into account readmissions. All the government deal with is the here and now, not the bigger picture.

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  • We have just launched a Home from Hospital service in Wiltshire and Carer Support Wiltshire are running it in partnership with two Age UK charities in the county.

    Though much of it will be done by volunteers, we also have 4 paid members of staff to support and co-ordinate and we are hopeful that the service will make a real difference to limiting re-admissions to hospital.

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  • NHS Lothian in Scotland is fighting to keep elderly patients in hospital when they are fit to be discharged, and West Lothian Social Services is refusing to support them when they do wish to return home and have a full-time carer to look after them. Both publicly claim to support the rights of the elderly to remain in the community for as long as possible. A case of publicly saying one thing, privately doing the opposite.

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  • Not sure how can be kept safely at home with 'care' when Councils eligibility criteria set at critical and very limited Dom care provision (15 minute visits including travel?!) available in very rural county like Somerset. Forget any suggestions of 24 hour care in the home- will fall to friends and family to provide support........

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