Old person hospital admissionOver twice the number of older people than previously thought may be left waiting in hospital despite being ready for discharge, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report today.

Delayed discharge from hospital significantly affects the wellbeing of older people and United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) welcomes NAO’s call for “radical action” to prevent further deterioration and an additional financial strain on the NHS and local government.

 NAO have clearly identified challenges of workforce supply in the social care system, which in the case of the homecare sector is reflected in a careworker turnover rate of over 40%.

UKHCA has repeatedly highlighted the impact of underfunding the homecare sector on employers’ ability to recruit and retain skilled and experienced workers. UKHCA’s Policy Director, Colin Angel, said: “Older people should not face the risks of deteriorating independence or reduced mental wellbeing because the system traps them in hospital. A properly resourced homecare sector could reduce unnecessary stays in hospital by up to 314,000 bed days a year – a saving of over £95 million for the NHS.”

UKHCA believes that clinical commissioning groups and councils should also make much better use of sustainable contracting relationships with independent and voluntary sector homecare providers, recognising that predictable demand for services is a positive driver for increased capacity. Councils and hospitals should also consider whether they have made best use of the practices described in NHS England’s “Quick Guide: Better use of care at home” (note 3).