Digital scheme to cut care home search

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A new digital portal is being introduced by the NHS and councils in the North of England which allows health and social care staff to see how many vacancies there are in local care homes.

The scheme is designed to saving hours of time phoning around to check availability and helping people to get the right care or return home as quickly as possible.

People who need a care home placement will be supported to get out of hospital sooner, thanks to new technology being rolled out to care homes, councils and hospitals across the country by NHS England as part of its Long Term Plan for the health service.

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England said: “One of the central ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan is to better support people to age well, and that means joining up different services locally to better meet people’s needs.

“By using this technology to work together more closely, hospitals, local authorities and care homes can ensure that people get the right care in the right place at the right time, and aren’t left waiting in hospital unnecessarily.

“Working with our local government, hospitals and community services as well as patients and their families has been essential to developing this new approach and will be key to rolling it out everywhere.”

In 2018, about a quarter of a million hospital bed days in England were taken up by people who were medically fit enough to be discharged, but who faced delays in an appropriate care home being found that could meet their recovery needs.

The NHS, working with councils, reduced the number of lost bed days by 20 per cent between 2017 and last year, and making the new tool – the Capacity Tracker – more widely available, is one of a number of measures being taken to reduce unnecessary delays leaving hospital still further.

Some 2,239 care homes in the North of England have signed up to the system, which is now being rolled out to thousands more across other parts of the country.

The Capacity Tracker now provides access to over 85,000 care home beds in the North of England – which means access to the vacancy information of well over half the total beds in the region.

The roll-out of the tool will contribute to ambitions set out in the NHS Long Term Plan to upgrade support to reduce avoidable long stays in hospital, including better sharing of information between care homes and hospital staff.

Across the NHS, Integrated Care Systems (ICS) and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships are seeing the NHS and local government work even more closely to join up care.