William Eichler 17 January 2019

Somerset council’s ‘help at home’ scheme saves NHS £2m

Somerset County Council’s ‘help at home’ scheme has helped patients avoid 7,500 nights in hospital and has saved the NHS at least £2m.

The Homefirst scheme, which has been jointly developed by the council’s adult social care team and the county’s hospitals, reduces hospital stays by up to 10 days by offering patients the opportunity to finish their therapy at home.

This ‘common sense’ approach sees NHS and social care staff working alongside independent care providers to help provide patients with tailored therapy in a home setting.

Homefirst has helped 2,000 patients leave hospital up to five days earlier since it started in September 2017, avoiding 7,500 nights in acute hospital beds.

Along with other schemes, it reduced overall delayed discharge in the county by 75% from 3,500 bed days lost per month to 800.

‘We’ve found that all it can take to avoid a long hospital stay is a frank conversation with the patient and family to learn more about the benefit of being at home and how they can manage and recover with the right support,’ said Tim Baverstock, who led the scheme for Somerset County Council.

‘If someone starts to recover they often want to go home and previously paperwork and assessments could have meant waiting weeks.

‘But while the patient waits their mobility and independence reduces and causes frustration – a person over 80 who spends 10 days in hospital loses 10% of muscle mass equivalent to 10 years of ageing. We wanted to bring an end to that.’

Dr Karen Kirkham, NHS England’s National Clinical Advisor for Primary Care, said: ‘As we now progress the long term plan for the NHS it is common sense schemes like this which will get the best care for patients and make the best use of every penny.

‘By finding out more about a patient’s circumstances at home we can tailor the care they get.’

‘We’ve been working closely with hospital and social care colleagues to transform the culture so decisions are about personalising care, talking to families and setting up the right support as fast and as close to home as we can,’ added Cllr Baverstock.

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