Could improving social care services be the solution to easing pressure on our struggling NHS?
Improving investment in social care is a strategy the Welsh Government have adopted as part of their strategy to ease pressure on NHS services – and it’s working. The most recent statistics for delayed transfers of care in Wales show they are at a 12 year low.
Better social care means patients can be discharged from hospitals as quickly as possible, explains Social Care Minister Huw Irranca-Davies.
The Minister confirmed part of the additional £10m the Welsh Government has made available to relieve winter pressures in the NHS is being used to ensure home care services are in place to enable patients who need ongoing support in the community to leave hospital earlier. The funding will also support people to remain in their own homes, avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions, wherever possible.
This funding is in addition to the £60m the Welsh Government is investing in the Integrated Care Fund each year, which is helping to reduce pressures on vital NHS and social care services. The fund is helping to drive integrated working between health, social care, housing and the third sector for a range of preventative purposes, including supporting older people to maintain their independence.
Investment has been made in a number of areas, which include:
- Commissioning additional nursing home beds or intermediate care beds to provide an alternative to acute hospital care for complex assessments
- Providing additional discharge liaison nurse & social worker hours to support complex discharge planning
- Funding additional re-ablement services so individual care and support packages for patients can be agreed and established to avoid admission and support discharge from hospital
- Increasing the capacity within local authorities’ Adult Social Work Teams to meet improved flow through the hospital setting and enable individuals to return to their home environment
- Extending the support available from Care & Repair for small adaptation services for older people to facilitate timely discharge from hospital
- Providing intensive rehabilitation services to facilitate earlier and less dependent discharge
- Increasing short term urgent domiciliary care services in people’s own homes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Signs are positive so far.
Huw Irranca-Davies said:
“In Wales, we are investing significantly in both our health and social care services, because one service cannot work without the other.
“The additional funding we have made available is being used to improve the flow of patients through the system, and treat and care for the increasing number of people – especially the frail elderly – who need health and care services at this time of year.
“Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of visiting a range of health and social care settings to see the excellent integrated working and collaboration between services. This vital work is helping to support people to maintain their independence and remain at home, enabling them to lead their own independent lives. It also helps avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital or residential care, and minimising delays when someone is due to be discharged from care.
“This is exactly the type of joined-up working we want to see more of, and which will form the very basis of our health and social care services in the years and decades ahead.”