Investing in social care to improve hospital discharge

Published 04 April, 2024

The UK government has recently announced an additional £600 million for social care. While the detail of this funding is to be revealed, additional investment in care services could present a significant opportunity to improve hospital discharge. But it is important that this funding is used carefully to maximise the impact it can have.

A timely intervention

The additional funding comes at a crucial moment. New research by national learning disability charity HFT and healthcare provider body Care England revealed that 40% of adult social care providers were in deficit in 2023. The report also shows that 43% of providers had been forced to close services or hand back contracts. A further 18% of providers were offering care to fewer people and 39% had considered exiting the market altogether. Within this context, new funds become even more important.

Supporting Workforce Development

A significant portion of the funding should be allocated to workforce development. This includes recruiting more care workers, providing them with better training, and ensuring fair pay. Recent research from The Health Foundation showed that nearly one in ten (9.9%) of adult social care roles in England was vacant – leaving major gaps in service provision. A well-supported and trained workforce is crucial for delivering high-quality care. It is also crucial to the management of patient transitions from hospital to home or care.

Preventing Hospital Readmissions

Better care in the community, supported by this funding, can significantly reduce the rate of hospital readmissions. This is especially important when you consider that many individuals who leave the hospital return due to a lack of suitable care. By ensuring that patients receive adequate support after discharge, the risk of complications and health deterioration can be minimised.

Integrated Transfer of Care Hubs

Investing in making Integrated Transfer of Care Hubs work should be a priority. These hubs aim to enable the seamless collaboration between healthcare and social care professionals and organisations. This funding can facilitate the development of these hubs, ensuring that patients experience a coordinated and smooth transition from hospital care to social care.

Leveraging Technology in Social Care

A portion of the funds should be dedicated to integrating technology into social care. This could include the adoption of telehealth services, remote patient monitoring, and digital health records. In our recent survey of social care staff, 54% felt that admin and paperwork was a significant driver of delayed discharge. Tech also has a key role to play by automating processes and reducing this burden.

The announcement of additional funding is always welcome. If used effectively, this funding has the potential to improve hospital discharge processes and overall patient care. It is imperative that this funding is strategically allocated to areas that will provide the maximum benefit, fostering a more efficient, integrated, and patient-centric healthcare system.

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