News | Published January 24 2020

Plans to introduce rapid response teams for home care

NHS England and ministers have drawn up a plan to establish rapid response teams to help elderly patients in their homes. 

The teams, made up of nurses, physiotherapist and carers, will aim to provide support within two hours across England.

The scheme is being piloted across seven areas throughout this year, with plans in place to expand the project across England by 2023.

The proposal has already been trialled in several places and these trials have reported reduced demand on A&E services. This follows a report from The Alzheimer’s Society which found that one in ten dementia patients spend over a month in hospital after being admitted.

The government has long promised a shake up of the current system but plans have been repeatedly postponed.

A budget of £14 million has been set aside to finance these new trials. Before being rolled out across the country, the scheme will be tested in Warrington, West Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Cornwall, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, South East London and Norfolk and Suffolk.

Alongside providing emergency support in the case of falls and minor infections, the teams will also aim to guarantee care packages within two days for those who have been admitted to hospital.

According to the BBC, five per cent of hospital beds are currently occupied by patients who are eligible for discharge but are unable to access suitable community care support. 

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS, welcomed the new proposals. He said: “The NHS working hand-in-glove in the community with council-funded social care services can be the difference between an older person, or someone with long-term health needs, spending a week or a month on a ward and not needing to go in, in the first place.”

Concerns exist, however, about the ability to carry out this plan because of major staff shortages in the care sector. Beyond this, community care teams are still waiting for plans on reforms to care funding.

Donna Kinnair, the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, warned that were simply not enough nurses to support this new scheme, as the number of community nurses continues to fall. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 136,000 vacancies in the human health and social work activities sector in their 2019 count,

Christina McAnea, the assistant general secretary of the union Unison, said: “If the social care system wasn’t underfunded to the point of collapse, older people could have been helped before they hit crisis point.

“But with resources scarce, short visits have become the norm.

“Care workers are so rushed off their feet, they barely have time to administer basic care, let alone assess whether someone needs a greater degree of help.”

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
January 24 2020

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