Once again a report has highlighted the need for better health and social care integration. Today’s report by BUPA, discussed in the Telegraph, states that a shortage of residential care is resulting in the blocking of hospital beds.
The report “Who Cares? Funding Adult Social Care Over the Next Decade” predicts that the number of care home beds will continue to decrease. The report suggests that this will result in more elderly people ending up in hospital, whereas they could have been treated in a nursing home. Clearly there is a need for better coordination between health and social care commissioning.
There is a current trend for the elderly to continue to be cared for at home for longer, rather than entering care homes. However for this to work there needs to be sufficient housing available, appropriate for those less able to care for themselves. Smart homes, with telecare sensors to trigger alerts in case of accidents, and designed to make living easier, have been developed for many years, however there is a low availability of such housing in the UK.
We should follow the example of New Zealand, where there are many areas of specialised housing, in easy reach of care centres and healthcare facilities. Those who are no longer able to care for themselves fully, but still want a degree of indepedence have the option of moving to such purpose-built homes.
One example in this country is that of the Lovat Fields retirement village in Milton Keynes, which has been deemed a success by the council. Grouping those needing care has been found to improve efficiency of care – not only is there purpose-built housing to enable the inhabitants to do more for themselves, but with those needing care living closer together less time is spent travelling by the care staff. More facilities are now being planned in Milton Keynes along the same lines.