This blog was contributed by Baroness Sally Greengross, a crossbench member of the House of Lords. Baroness Greengross is seeking to amend the Care Bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords, on the issue of delayed discharge.
The Care Bill that is currently being debated in the House of Lords is a vital part of the changes that are necessary to reform social care in England, by clarifying and bringing up-to-date the legal framework of the care system. A key area that the Bill must address is the delay that those needing social care experience, while waiting for a package of support to be put in place to enable them to leave hospital.
Facing a stay on a hospital ward can be difficult for anyone but for an older person being admitted following a crisis, such as broken hip from a fall at home, it can be particularly upsetting and disruptive.
Recent statistics show that people who experience a delay in accessing social care, go on to wait much longer for a package of support to be put in place compared to when the Government came to power. Someone will now wait an average of 27 days in hospital before a social care package is put together to allow them to go home – 12.8 per cent longer. For those accessing residential care the average wait is 30.3 days.
The impact of this is two-fold. For an older person in a vulnerable position being left languishing in hospital is not only upsetting for them and their families but it can have a negative impact on their recovering. This also has significant financial implications for our NHS. Since the Coalition came into power the estimated total cost to the health service of delayed discharge from waiting for social care provision is £260 million or over 1 million NHS days. An NHS bed costs on average around £250 a day compared to the £524 average weekly cost of residential care.
The significant rise in the length of time people have to wait for the right care and support to be put in place points to a breakdown in the system, at a time when social care spending has dramatically fallen.
Councils up and down the country are struggling to balance their budgets and this has had a significant impact on the funding of the social care. In real terms £810 million has been cut from social care budgets and most of this has come from reduced local authority funding.
Tackling the issue of delayed discharge involves not only strengthening the Care Bill to ensure services are better coordinated and integrated but also putting an end to the crisis in social care. The current and future funding of social care is dependent on a long term commitment to finding sufficient resources to make sure that every older person gets the care that they need, when they need it.
The measures contained in the Care Bill have the potential to make great strides to creating a system where all older people can get the care they need. Find out more about Age UK’s Care in Crisis campaign