Telecare - the key to lifting the strain on the NHS?

Older people often face delays in discharge from hospital following treatment, even when there is no medical necessity for them to stay on the ward. This is mainly because those who need some care or supervision after discharge often have to wait until care packages or suitable accommodation can be put in place. Local authorities are increasingly strapped for cash, with spending on adult social care reported to have been reduced by 10 per cent since 2009-2010. Unlike hospitals, local authorities and community health organisations are not financially incentivised to reduce delays in discharging people from hospital back into the community.

Problems with delayed hospital discharge

These delayed discharges are costing the NHS almost £1bn each year and are blocking beds needed by people with acute conditions; in addition, long stays in hospital are detrimental to patients in many cases. Longer stays in hospital can cause older people to lose mobility and even the ability to carry out the normal tasks of everyday living that they would complete at home. In addition to physical problems, a long stay in hospital can cause depression and a general lack of motivation, meaning that the person can be less able to cope at home. Telecare could be the solution to the problem of discharging older people safely and quickly back to their own homes.

How telecare can help

Companies such as Aster can provide personal alarms for the elderly, enabling them to return home after a hospital admission safe in the knowledge that help is at hand if required. The use of pendant alarms allows people to move around their homes but still be able to summon assistance, with the base unit connected to a 24-hour manned switchboard. Older people feel safer in their own homes with permanent access to a careline in the UK and their families benefit from knowing there are safety measures in place. Telecare solutions such as a pendant alarm for elderly people being discharged from hospital are quick to install, with urgent cases sometimes being installed within two working days. This is a considerable improvement on the days or weeks an older person may have to wait for other discharge arrangements to be made. Aster can arrange for telecare solutions to be installed ready for the person’s discharge, meaning that they will not have to stay in hospital any longer than necessary. This can be very comforting for the person involved and for family members, as it is not always easy to visit people in hospital regularly. It is good to know that your loved one could come home to their familiar surroundings with the safety net of being able to contact you or the emergency services if they need to. Most people are much happier in their own homes as long as they feel safe, with telecare making it possible for them to return home from hospital and continue their recovery in a familiar environment.