“We are here to help” is the message from a Shropshire charity leader after it was revealed that nearly 20 beds a day are occupied by patients in the county who no longer need to be in hospital.
Fae Dromgool, Chief Executive of the Ethos Group, has issued a reminder that it can help to reduce ‘bed blocking’ in Shropshire hospitals as figures from NHS England for August show that a combined 582 days were spent by patients across the county waiting to be discharged or transferred to a different care facility.
The Ethos Group provides adapted short-term accommodation and support for people with life-changing physical disabilities to prepare them for independent living – helping to free up hospital beds.
The charity runs three properties in Oswestry which can accommodate up to 10 clients, each having their own bedroom, private access and shared communal facilities. It also helps clients find a permanent future home to suit their needs.
Fae said: “There is increasing demand for intermediate care for those who cannot return home immediately following hospital treatment – one of the greatest challenges for the NHS is caring for patients who are unable to be discharged directly home but do not need to be in an acute hospital bed.
“The main reason for the 148,900 total delayed days in England in August (up from 146,900 in August 2018) was ‘patients awaiting further non-acute NHS care’.
“We are here to reduce the strain by welcoming patients with physical disabilities and helping them to live independently. We are ideally placed to work collaboratively with health and social care organisations to improve services and support locally and reduce the time people spend in hospital, when they no longer need acute care.
“Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have started to look towards more innovative solutions and some are commissioning beds and services in private care homes – but this isn’t always the best solution to promote independence. Ethos has the additional benefit of ensuring care is focused on helping patients recover and enables them to live in their own home.
“We would urge health bosses to keep us at the forefront of their minds and ensure we are part of the pathway – we often have a vacancy as people move onto a permanent home. We currently have space and there may be someone in hospital right now who could come and live at one of our properties but just isn’t aware of how we can support them.
“We are small but we can make a mighty difference to people’s lives.”
Fae added that discharging patients to Ethos saved the NHS money.
“We are more cost effective than a hospital bed; in these times of austerity the NHS is becoming more aware of that.
“Based on eight residents in our accommodation, the savings compared to the cost of staying in hospital beds add up to more than £20,000 a week,” she said.