People admitted to hospital this winter without a permanent home will be offered special advice and support to help them find accommodation and get discharged quicker from hospital.
Russells Hall Hospital’s discharge team faces increasing pressure from people who are admitted, but who are unable to be discharged, although medically fit, as they have no permanent home to go to.
To tackle this problem, ease pressure on the hospital and ensure people have the advice and support they need and a home to go to, Dudley Council’s cabinet has approved plans to place a housing officer within the hospital’s discharge team throughout the winter months.
The new housing officer will support people by looking at what housing options are available to them immediately, helping them to avoid an unnecessary lengthy stay in hospital, meaning beds are freed for people who need them.
The officer’s post will be funded through a one-off winter pressures grant from the government. The grant will complement existing council schemes, which are already easing pressures facing health and social care services, funded through the improved better care fund.
Councillor John Martin, cabinet member for adult social care, said:
With forecasts suggesting we’re going to have a harsher winter this year, our colleagues at the hospital are bracing themselves for a very busy period.
We need to work with them and do what we can to support them and provide resilience in a system that is under increasing pressure.
This extra funding will allow us to bolster what we’re already doing to reduce delayed discharges at the hospital and free up hospital beds.
Moving forward we will need to think about how these additional services can be funded and sustained long term beyond the government’s one-off funding.”
Councillor Gaye Partridge, cabinet member for housing, said:
This is an important and practical step that will really make a difference for the better and I am really pleased we’ll now have one of our housing officers on the front line, supporting the NHS by making sure people are aware of their rights and housing options.
We don’t want to see anyone homeless or at risk of losing their home at any time of year and this is why we have a homeless team that offers advice and support 24/7, often in emergency situations.”
Karen Kelly, chief operating officer for The Dudley Group, said:
We work closely and collaboratively with our healthcare partners and welcome this extra support from Dudley Council for patients without a permanent home.
Our discharge team start putting plans in place as soon as patients are admitted to hospital to ensure they get home or to suitable accommodation as soon as they are medically fit.
It is very important that patients and their families do all they can to help with these arrangements. There is extensive evidence to show that patients recover much more quickly out of hospital and in familiar surroundings.”
The winter pressures grant will also be used to improve capacity over the winter period by increasing the amount of single-handed care and community equipment available, the number of social care assessors, the number of care hours available and enhancing weekend cover and providing further staff training.
This will help the council maintain the current low levels of delayed discharges due to people needing social care support and ease pressures on patient flow at the hospital.