Home-based intermediate care investment could save £1bn a year, say councils

A billion pounds could be saved each year by returning people to their own homes from hospital rather than to care homes, a new report argues.

Finding a way home by the County Councils Network says the savings could be made by investment in intermediate care and therapy in people’s own homes.

Instead of buying up short-term residential care beds to discharge over 65s from hospital, which can inadvertently reduce independence, the report outlines the government should this winter instead look to broader solutions, particularly greater investment and then use of home-based care, community and reablement services – as well as reforming NHS ways of working.

The report says six million bed days could be saved by reducing delayed discharges, including 500,000 from ‘simple’ discharges. This could be achieved by utilising more criteria-led discharges, and by improving capacity in intermediate care services (such as reablement and rehabilitation at home).

Cllr Martin Tett, health and social care spokesperson for the County Councils Network, said: “By investing more in the right community and intermediate care, as well as enabling improved decision-making across the system, today’s report sets out a clear pathway to creating a more sustainable and effective system, helping to avoid tens of thousands of unnecessary admissions each year and speeding up discharge rates. For those that then leave hospital, it also outlines how they can get the best possible health outcomes.”

Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers said: “Our latest survey shows eight in 10 trust leaders fear this winter will be their toughest yet. We therefore welcome the emphasis on reallocating resources towards community-based care, prioritising both preventing hospital admissions and promoting effective hospital discharges. This shift is right for patients and service users, and crucial in optimising patient care and system efficiency.”

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