NHS Scotland will have to run faster just to stand still, writes Louise Love
In February this year, the Scottish Government launched its new National Clinical Strategy for healthcare services, which aims to shift the burden of care away from our acute hospitals by supporting smaller hospitals, creating teams of nurses, GPs and pharmacists to treat people in a community setting.
The costs to the NHS associated with demographic change and increased life expectancy are estimated to be in the region of an additional £120 million a year up to 2030.
That means if NHS Scotland is to be functioning effectively by the end of the next decade it will have to run faster just to stand still, and to do that it will need to embrace change. Thankfully, one thing that comes across loud and clear from ministers is a renewed attempt to harness the skills and capacity of the third sector, particularly in the provision of community-based support for patients.
As a charity dedicated to enabling older and disabled people to live independently in their own homes, Care and Repair Edinburgh has been developing service models that fit the needs of older NHS patients.
From arranging a home-from- hospital adaptation to offering a listening ear to lonely older people, Care and Repair Edinburgh’s staff and volunteers provide a one-stop-shop of assistance. Last year, the charity’s busiest year ever, we helped 5,334 older and disabled people to continue to live safely at home – a 27 per cent rise in demand for our services.
During the next Parliament we plan to be more ambitious than ever, developing new ways of working directly with health and social care services to help them look after people recovering from hospital treatment in their own communities.
One critical challenge facing the health and social care sector in Edinburgh is delayed discharge. While the vast majority of delays are due to care shortages, some are related to housing issues. Many of these patients require some form of adaptation on their homes. Care and Repair Edinburgh is ideally placed to provide these services, which will support early discharge from hospital.
We are already working closely with key stakeholders such as NHS Lothian and the City of Edinburgh Council to assist with hospital discharges and to enable people to make a quick, smooth and lasting transition from hospital care to their own homes. As such, we have adopted a new approach to supporting hospital discharges through the delivery of the following services:
We have recently become the first installer of Easiaccess equipment in Scotland. This enables us to fit handrails, ramps and step units, all fully compliant and competitively priced.
Our joiners have become Trusted Assessors and can supply small equipment and carry out minor adaptations and repairs to the home to support hospital discharges, such as installation of ramps and rails.
Additionally, we continue to assist patients to leave hospital through the efficient installation of Keysafes at their home. This is a task that’s simple to achieve with the right skills and support, but which provides enormous peace of mind to patients, their family and carers alike. During 2015, we supported 1,290 patients.
We are always looking for more volunteers to join us to give a helping hand across a wide range of DIY jobs which range from changing a light bulb, tuning in someone’s TV, helping to set up a computer or putting up a curtain rail.
• Louise Love is interim chief executive, Care and Repair Edinburgh