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Are hospitals discharging elderly people without support?

Elderly patients are being “ushered out” of hospital before adequate support has been put in place, charity Age UK has cautioned.

Age UK director Caroline Abrahams stated that such circumstances were the result of both increasing pressure on NHS resources and a mounting beds crisis.

The statement comes amid the release of two separate reports into so-called ‘bed-blocking’, which were commissioned by both Age UK and the GMB union. Bed-blocking refers to a situation whereby a patient is kept in hospital longer than strictly necessary, often because the right care package is yet to be put in place.  

The Age UK study estimated that 2,998,273 hospital bed days were lost nationally to bed-blocking between June 2010 and January 2016, with a 24.8% increase in the last two years alone. The GMB union study found that delays in securing residential care accounted for 23.8% of the total number of days lost to bed-blocking.

Primary driving factors that are preventing people from returning home once medically fit include a lack of available information and over-arching confusion over the services available and who would foot the bill, according to Age UK.

Caroline Abrahams said: “Hospitals are under huge pressure but it is unacceptable for any hospital ever to usher an older person out without the home support they need being properly in place… The solution to the problem of delayed discharge is emphatically never to 'shunt' an older person off the premises with insufficient regard to their need for care and support, but sadly it seems the pressure on hospitals is now such that sometimes this is happening.”

Fiona Lowry, our CEO, commented: “High care standards and continuity of care are our top priorities at The Good Care Group. We recognise the difficulties that families can face when arranging care for their loved ones, especially after discharge from hospital. Care in the home has been shown to reduce rates of hospital admissions significantly, and affords your loved ones the independence and dignity that they deserve.”