Call to help older people return home from hospital

November 22, 2021

A coalition of charities and membership organisations are calling on the Health Secretary to take immediate action to help older people return home from hospital.

In an open letter to Sajid Javid, the National Care Forum, British Geriatrics Society, Age UK, Independent Age, Care England and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have called for immediate steps to be taken to address the shortage of care workers to ensure that older people are able to access the care they need when they are discharged from hospital.

These steps include an immediate bonus and pay rise for staff working in social care and for care workers to be added to the Shortage Occupation List.

The letter highlights the stories shared through the British Geriatrics Society’s Timely Discharge campaign, illustrating the human impact on large numbers of older people in hospitals across the country who are medically fit for discharge but cannot access the care and rehabilitation they need to return home. Charity leaders said that due to the massive shortfall in available care staff, older people are ending up stuck in hospital when they do not need to be there.

Dr Jennifer Burns, President of the British Geriatrics Society said that the NHS is ‘currently under extreme pressure without the added challenge of people remaining in hospital who medically do not need to be there.’

The Coalition believes that the Secretary of State could bring a halt to the current exodus of care workers, which will help to ensure social care is in place to enable older people to be discharged from hospital.

Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the National Care Forum said, ‘The pressure on people is immense. Shortages in the care workforce mean that people are not able to be in the place they call home and often are spending too long in hospital where they are unable to receive the care they need. There is no time for Government to delay. If we fail to take decisive action to address this workforce crisis, then we fail the people and communities that we are all here to serve.’

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said, ‘Unfortunately, delayed discharges are back with a vengeance at a time when our hospitals are under unprecedented pressure from COVID-19 and treatment backlogs. These delays cause misery and distress to older people who cannot get home, and the principal reason for them is beyond dispute: a chronic and apparently growing shortage of care staff available to support older people when they leave hospital. The Government must get a grip on this situation and at least try and stop the situation from becoming worse, by putting more money into care workers' pockets now. The other UK nations have already paid retention bonuses to care workers and the Government in Westminster should follow suit.’

Visit the British Geriatrics Society website to read the open letter in full.

In other news, a new research project has been launched to understand the impact of COVID-19 in older people’s care homes and the workforce.


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