The Welsh Government will invest up to £30m to deliver more care at home or in the community and reduce the time people spend in hospitals.
The Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan and Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan have set out how they will work with local government, NHS and other partners to strengthen local care services in order to help alleviate the kind of pressure on the health and care system seem this winter.
Building on the 670 extra community beds delivered this winter, this new investment will improve people’s chances of living at home independently, increase use of technology and redeploy staff and resources to ensure people living with frailty are supported to live at home.
Where a hospital stay is needed, stronger community services will enable that stay to be as short as possible by enabling people to recover safely and comfortably at home.
The investment will also reduce pressure on hospital beds by preventing hospital admissions through early intervention.
Eluned Morgan said:
“It’s estimated that in less than 20 years there will be nearly 150,000 more people aged 75 or older in Wales and there is a projected increase of 61.3% in the Welsh population who are 85 and over. This is a sign of the success of our NHS and is something we should be proud of.
“Older people contribute hugely to Welsh society and they tell us what matters to them is fairly simple – if they need care and support, they want to be cared for in familiar surroundings with familiar people and do not want to go to hospital unless this is really necessary.
“Research has also shown that people recover better in the comfort of their own home rather than in hospital, where they are less likely to become deconditioned and less likely to pick up infections. We must focus on transforming the way we provide care to enable this.
“We need to move the focus from treating short term episodes of ill-health to meeting the needs of more frail and elderly people with multiple health conditions.
“I have told health boards that addressing the issue of delayed transfers of care needs to be their number one priority. Because without improving the flow through hospitals almost all other aspects of health care, including waiting lists, will be impacted. This additional funding should help them with that challenge.”
Later this year the Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan, will be setting out a long-term vision for strengthening social care.
Julie Morgan said:
“I want to see consistency across Wales in the standards of care frail people can expect to get in their community, leading eventually to a community care service for Wales.
“I was impressed and encouraged by what was achieved by local authorities and health boards this winter in securing 670 extra community beds across Wales. But now we need to go further, faster to make sure more people can get the care and support they need at home or in their community and spend less time in hospitals.”
Eluned Morgan added:
“This will not only benefit people and improve outcomes but also improve the flow through our health care system.
“This isn’t about the workforce working harder – our amazing health and care staff are already doing everything they can – this is about how decision makers must reshape services so they are fit for the future.”
The investment of up to £30m will help to:
- Deliver thousands of extra hours of reablement services across Wales – providing as a safe alternative to hospital admission and to keep people at home, or so people can recover at home more quickly after a stay in hospital;
- Recruit more community workers to advise people on how they can access the right support and services to help them recover and lead independent lives
- Ensure every local authority has a Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Responder Service by winter 2024. Currently only 10 local authorities have this facility. Using the latest monitoring technology this service will ensure people can get the help they need as quickly as possible,
- Move towards 24/7 Community nursing by increasing the availability of community nurses across Wales for an extra 10 hours a day on Saturday and Sundays;
- Strengthen community specialist palliative care – by making specialist nurses available overnight.
- Practical support for local services to collaborate to put in place an individual care plan for those people identified as most at risk for urgent care. This will help to reduce hospital admissions.
Councillor Andrew Morgan (Rhondda Cynon Taf), WLGA Leader said: “We know that social services can play a vital part in helping to care for people in their own communities and away from hospital wards. Last winter, councils worked tirelessly with partners in health and the Welsh Government to make 670 more community beds available. Local government’s commitment to working together with partners to meet our residents’ needs remains undimmed.
“However, there is no escaping the enormous pressure on the health and social care system currently. Councils have long made the case that we must think differently about health and wellbeing and to strive to prevent people from becoming ill in the first place. By working in partnership at a local level, including social services, GPs and community-based health services, as well as providers in the private and third sectors, we can help to improve our residents’ prospects. It is essential that we take this chance to consider how resources and capacity can be used as efficiently and effectively as possible, and to examine what can be done differently across the system to improve the health and wellbeing of people in communities all over Wales.”
Last week the Minister for Health and Social Services joined the Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan, on a visit to the Co-ordination centre at South Pembrokeshire Hospital were the health board, local authority and third sector work together to co-ordinate and allocate the appropriate care to people across the county.
They also met people receiving care after coming out of hospital and re-ablement care to prevent them returning to hospital and to live independently at home.
Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long Term Care for Hywel Dda University Health Board said:
“This is a priority for us and our partner organisations. By working together to coordinate and deliver our services we can support individuals to remain at home or in their community with the right level of care and support so that they spend less time in hospital.”
Cllr Tessa Hodgson, Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Social Care and Safeguarding, said:
“We have a history of excellent partnership working in Pembrokeshire, with health, third sector and the authority’s social care delivering projects and services which supports our communities. It’s important to focus on what will benefit patients – and improve outcomes for the people who live in Pembrokeshire who need these vital health and care services. This approach will improve the co-ordination and efficiency to ensure services are fit-for-purpose and improve the lives of those who need support the most.”