Older vulnerable people 'to get better care'
Published on 14 May 2013 11:30 AM
New measures aimed at providing better, more personal, integrated and compassionate care for older vulnerable people will come in next spring.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that the proposals will be announced in the autumn ahead of their April implementation date.
These will include examining:
- the way hospitals are established to support frail and older people in emergencies, particularly those with dementia
- the role of GPs in supporting vulnerable older people
- the barriers preventing people getting joined-up care
The plans, which also include trying to restore confidence in the out-of-hours service, form part of a commitment outlined by NHS and local government leaders to close the gap between the two systems by 2018
The Department of Health, NHS England, the Local Government Association and the umbrella bodies for directors of child and adult social care have all signed up to this commitment.
Mr Hunt warned the Commons during the Queen's Speech debate that the reforms will require a 'great deal of careful work asking some difficult questions and making some tough decisions'.
But he added: 'If it leads to more personal care, more integrated and more compassionate care, then it stands alongside the care bill as an important step forward in reforming the care received by millions of people.'
Councils have a 'key role' to play
The Local Government Association said its members would be working hard to play their part.
Its chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said that councils have a 'key role' in integrating services to improve the quality of care and support that people receive.
He said they could help find new ways of addressing the long-standing concerns around the future funding of care services.
Mr Hunt's reform pledge comes as new figures show that older hospital patients are facing increasing delays for social care help.
Hospital patients waiting over 30 days for a care home place
Age UK's analysis of Government statistics found that hospital patients are waiting for over 30 days on average for a care home place - 13% longer than three years ago.
Those needing social care packages at home are typically waiting 27 days - again 13% longer.
Such delays are expensive for the NHS as well as being difficult for patients.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK, said: 'Waiting in hospital needlessly not only wastes NHS resources but it can also undermine an older person's recovery and be profoundly upsetting for them and their families as a result.
'We are very worried that the growing crisis in social care is having a significant impact on the length of time that older people are having to stay in hospital waiting for social care support to be put in place.
'The steep rise in the length of time people are waiting for a care home place, home care or adaptations - significantly above the general rise in delayed discharge waits - suggests that something has gone seriously wrong in the transition from hospital to home or residential care during the time when we know social care spending has fallen dramatically.
'We need the Care Support Bill to be twinned with both an emergency injection of funds to shore up the current system and a long-term commitment to finding sufficient resources to make sure that every older person gets the care they need, when they need it.'
Copyright Press Association 2013