According to recent media reports, thousands of pensioners could be forced into care homes against their will under undisclosed NHS cost cutting plans. It is reported that more than 13,000 elderly people could be effectively ‘evicted’ as health authorities refuse to fund care in their own homes.

The potential of this gives great cause for concern – care homes are already under enormous pressure. The closure rate of care homes in the UK has been described as nearing ‘crisis’ with one closing every week – this is already leaving vulnerable people at risk. The UK has an aging population meaning that demand is only going to increase. According to the Office for National Statistics, more than one in 12 people in the UK will be aged over 80 by 2039. And with the NHS recently confirming that ‘20 hospitals declare black alert’ due to a lack of beds, the problem of rushed or ‘forced’ discharges could already be happening.

Patients and their families should remember that when it comes to being discharged from hospital, they can have a say. Each hospital will have its own discharge policy which will be available from the ward manager or the hospital’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). Once a patient is admitted to hospital, a treatment plan, including details for discharge or transfer, should be discussed and drawn up in liaison with each patient. A discharge assessment should determine whether a patient needs more care after leaving hospital. Each patient should be fully involved in the assessment process and if relevant, family and carers should be involved and given the opportunity to help with the practicalities.

According to the NHS Choices website, patients should not be discharged from hospital until:

• The patient is medically fit
• An assessment of ongoing recovery support has been completed
• A written care plan has been prepared and agreed with the patient
• The support described in the care plan has been put in place and it’s safe for the patient to be discharged.

No one should be pressured into leaving hospital until a full assessment process has taken place. The duty of Health & Social Services is to ensure that patients have a safe hospital discharge including setting up a care package and appropriate funding, which could be at home or in a care home. Allowing people to continue their recovery after a stay in hospital in the comfort of their own home has many benefits, even if 24 hour care and companionship is needed. It is cost effective, enables a more effective discharge from hospital and, it can help ease the current lack of beds in our hospitals and reduce readmission numbers.

Otus Live-in Care is a privately owned company offering a bespoke service introducing personal live-in carers and companions to clients in their own homes. We are dedicated to helping provide support for those who want to remain living in their own home independently, but with the security that they have someone living with them to deliver support and provide companionship. To find out more visit our website, call us on 01403 710119 or email, without obligation.

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