Southwest hospitals discharging patients into ‘care hotels’

Hospitals in Bristol, Devon and Cornwall have begun discharging patients into ‘care hotels’ to help ease winter pressures.

The BBC reported NHS Devon had block-booked 40 beds at the Leonard Hotel in Plymouth, 10 of which are to be used by patients from Cornwall.

A Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are making use of a small number of beds (10) in the Devon care hotel, which is a tried and tested model of care. Discussions are ongoing in Cornwall with regard to setting up our own facility – similar to a care hotel that was in operation last year – are currently underway, however details are yet to be confirmed.”

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire integrated care board has been similarly using rooms at an unnamed hotel in Bristol since November for up to 30 patients, according to The Guardian.

Around 13,000 beds in England, approximately one in eight, are occupied by ‘delayed discharge’ patients due to a lack of available care packages.

A spokesperson for NHS Devon said: “Care hotels are just one of many positive measures health and care partners have put in place to reduce pressure on busy health services this winter. They are not used for hospital patients and are used to provide social care for people who are medically fit and do not require hospital care but do need additional living support after a stay in hospital or to prevent them from needing to be admitted. 

“Support is provided by a Care Quality Commission registered care agency, which complies with all infection prevention and control measures; protecting both care hotel and hotel guests.

 “A number of guests have been supported to regain their independence and return home without the need for care. Feedback from guests has been very positive, with praise for the staff, the accommodation and the ability to be more independent and socialise with other care hotel residents.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “Hotels are not an appropriate place to provide high-quality care for older people in need of support to recuperate after a spell in hospital.”

Abrahams said the policy was a “sad indictment of successive failure to invest in a stable, functioning social care system capable of providing the right help at the right time” and was a “sticking plaster solution”.

Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England, told us: “Care hotels should only be used when there is no capacity within the social care sector locally. Care homes have the skills, knowledge, and experience to support people through rehabilitation and convalescence, and they should be the first port of call for any local health and social care system seeking to discharge medically fit patients.” 

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