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Why Live-In Care is vital to the social care ecosystem

Why Live-In Care is vital to the social care ecosystem
Date published: 14 October 2022 Author: Stefanie Barlow Categories:

In 2018, then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt, said: “How we care for our most vulnerable citizens is the true litmus test of whether we are a civilised society.”

And that rings as true today as it did then. Not just for older people, but also for younger people with disabilities and special educational needs who are living much longer and have every right to expect better opportunities than once was the case. 

However despite a modest increase in funding, numerous green papers citing social care reform, and promises to recognise the importance and value of care workers, little has changed. Social care services remain at risk. The difficulties are perhaps not as widely reported as those facing the NHS in recent times, but they are there. 

And until we find better ways of managing the health and wellbeing of our ageing population, there is little chance of improvement.

The issue of bed blocking within the NHS

Perhaps one of the more widely discussed issues facing our NHS is the delayed discharge of people who need 24/7 care but not necessarily medical treatment. 

For example: an 83-year-old lady with a broken hip is successfully operated on to stabilise the joint. She is well enough to be at home and no longer requires medical care from the hospital. t She does however need round-the-clock support in order to manage her personal care needs  and eat because she is immobile. 

In the short-term at least, she is taking up a bed that could better be used by a patient with greater medical needs.

If there is space in a local respite hospital, there may be the opportunity to move her there. But again, these beds are precious and can be used more effectively for those that need medical supervision or attention. 

And it’s not only about space and need, it’s about cost. The cost of funding each bed and the staff to cover that bed is extortionate when compared to the cost of funding in-home care.

And this isn’t a one off.

A recent investigation by the Health Service Journal found that medically fit patients are waiting up to nine months before discharge, depending on the hospital trust. While in July 2022, almost 13,000 patients were ‘bed blocking’ in hospitals across the country because it wasn’t deemed ‘safe’ to send them home. 

And if reports that it costs £400 per night to fund an NHS bed are to be believed, then that adds up to an eye watering amount. 

The role of live-in care in easing the burden

Social care, and in our mind live-in care in particular, has a huge part to play in terms of relieving pressure on hospital beds. It allows the provision of high quality of care to those in need and keeps people out of residential care spaces where possible.

Live-in care allows vulnerable people to get out of hospital and back into the comfort of familiar surroundings. It allows them to get back to as much of their old routine as they are able, supported by the one-to-one attention they would never be able to receive on a busy ward. Friends and family may be more able and feel more comfortable to visit a loved one in their home rather than a medical setting. And patients can spend time with pets or even just enjoying favourite foods or a cup of tea in their own home

And while all of this seems to make good financial sense – after all, live in care costs less than £400 per day – it’s actually about a lot more than that. The boost to mental health and ultimately physical health and recovery times, simply from comfortable surroundings and one-on-one attention is immense.

Of course, this may not be the best option for everyone – there are many things to think about before being discharged from hospital. But unless live in care starts to be recognised as a professional and valuable option by the members of our hospital discharge teams, it will never be the solution the sector so desperately needs. 

Promedica24’s Live-in care service is regulated by the CQC,(not all LIC providers are regulated) just like residential care, and it has a very real part to play in freeing up beds in hospitals, care homes and respite care centers across the country. Not to mention reducing critical waiting times.

Funding live-in care

Of course, everything has a cost and live-in care is no exception. Much of the issue here is that social care is funded separately to the NHS. But there are often ways and means, and the cost of live-in care may not be as much as you think.

It’s worth exploring with your own local council whether care can be funded and if so, how much. Have a read of How to fund your live-in carer for a more general overview.

The entire social care industry is under extreme pressure, so perhaps now with a new Prime Minister and a new responsible Secretary of State, it’s time we reiterate this once again.

Providing additional funding for live-in care in the home is a vital strategy to relieve the pressure that our NHS is facing and will continue to face throughout this winter and beyond. 

Let’s look after our most vulnerable people and prove we are indeed the civilised society we claim to be. 

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