From hospital to home

Monday, 27 February 2017 - 1:08pm

A look at how one hospital discharge project is reducing pressure on services and preventing homelessness

Person holding a cardboard cutout of a house

The local authority and local hospitals in our area are under extreme pressure to meet the needs of vulnerable people presenting for help. 

A challenge faced by many hospitals is the demand for beds, which are often occupied by people who are medically fit but have a housing or social care need preventing their discharge. However, while there are many initiatives focussed on reducing hospital stays for older people, a significant number of younger people also need an intervention.

In response to this need, we developed our Hospital 2 Home service. 86% of the people our service has worked with are below pensionable age, and two thirds were homeless and rough sleeping either on, or because of, their admission. Individuals often had other needs such as, poor mental health and alcohol or drug dependency. Some people were finding it impossible to look after their home and were unable to care for themselves.

Coming into hospital, for many, appears to be a catalyst for change. Some realise that their body can no longer physically support their lifestyle, but for others a hospital stay changed things at home. We found that some families refused to take a person back due to their needs and in some cases, relationships broke down on the news of a serious diagnosis.

Hospital 2 Home is provided by Northampton Borough Council, and delivered in partnership with Northampton General Hospital and Northamptonshire Healthcare (NHS) Foundation Trust. The primary aims of our service are to reduce the length of time a person stays in hospital, lessen the likelihood of readmission and to prevent homelessness. However, we also play a role in improving the patient’s experience of discharge and providing support to them when they leave hospital.

The service has demonstrated better outcomes for individuals

We have achieved exceptional success in supporting people to leave hospital, preventing homelessness and reducing readmission. We have worked with 108 patients, none of whom have been readmitted to hospital or re-presented as homeless to the local authority.

The service has demonstrated cost-efficiency

By freeing up beds more quickly, preventing readmission and reducing the need for patients to be moved between hospitals, we estimate that we have saved £39,750 for an additional night’s stay (for 108 patients) and efficiency savings of £278,250 in reducing penalties relating to people waiting for a service.

At a time when public sector health services face escalating demands, holistic service responses have never been more crucial.

We are proof that ‘better together’ really does work; delivering not only cost savings, but improved services for those who are vulnerable. Our service has made a significant difference to people’s lives and has alleviated the pressure of emergency admissions, lengthy overstays and crisis responses to homelessness. We whole-heartedly believe that hospital discharge services for homeless, and other vulnerable people, benefits everyone.

For more information and to obtain a copy of the report, please contact Simon Favell: sfavell@northampton.gov.uk

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Simon Favell

Interim Wellbeing Partnership Officer

I am a freelance, currently working for Northampton Borough Council in Housing and Wellbeing. I have been working in social housing for 30 years and passionate about social justice, the customer, their community and wellbeing; focussing on delivering the best outcomes for the client.

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