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Eight care homes in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have offered more than 50 beds between them to help ease the unprecedented pressures on health and social care.
The beds will give patients who are ready to leave hospital - but can’t yet go because their onward care is delayed for a variety of reasons - a more homely alternative to languishing on a busy acute hospital ward.
The 55 beds have been bought for use over the winter, a time when pressures are traditionally at their highest, but expected to be even worse this year.
These transitional care beds will help tackle delays which many patients face leaving hospital, which in turn will allow patients who need to be admitted have a bed sooner. This will then help reduce the number of ambulances queuing outside hospitals waiting to admit patients.
Patients won’t be charged for their stay in these transitional care beds. The cost is being covered by Swansea Bay University Health Board and Swansea and Neath Port Talbot local authorities through the *West Glamorgan Regional Partnership’s winter pressures budget. The beds are across four care homes in Swansea and four in Neath Port Talbot.
Stays in transitional beds should be for up to six weeks. However this could be longer or shorter depending on the availability of community support packages.
There are around 250 patients currently in acute wards in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot hospitals, who are well enough to leave but delayed from doing so. Arrangements are currently in the process of being made for some of these individuals to move to the transitional care beds.
Huge pressures on health and social care as a result of the pandemic and staffing shortages has meant innovative and flexible ways of tackling the issues have had to be sought.
The transitional care beds will be used for patients who generally fall into one of these categories:
The 55 beds are the first phase of plans to buy up to 100 care beds in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot over the winter. The second procurement phase will begin shortly.
Swansea Bay University Health Board Chief Executive, Mark Hackett, said:
“The current pressures are severe and ongoing, and likely to worsen in the months ahead. We must take urgent action now so we can provide a much more appropriate environment for patients who no longer need acute medical help, but are being delayed through no fault of their own from leaving hospital.
“It is not good for their health or wellbeing to have a prolonged stay on an acute hospital ward. They are at risk of picking up infections, have little opportunity to socialise and their fitness levels can suffer badly by not moving around enough.
“A care home offers a much homelier environment, with day rooms and dining facilities, and far more opportunities to engage with others.
“I’d like to ask families to work closely with hospital teams if their relative is one of the patients identified as being suitable for the new bed scheme, to help the moves go as smoothly as possible.
“I would also like to thank our partners in West Glamorgan Regional Partnership for rising to this challenge in such a flexible and innovative way, and also the care homes who came forward so quickly to offer their available beds. I hope that we will be in a position to find another 45 beds shortly.”
Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, Mark Child, said:
“These are unprecedented times. Covid-19 has not gone away. This joint approach will provide an option that will support people’s reablement when they are ready to leave hospital care.
“Alongside our NHS colleagues, we want to reassure those leaving hospital and their families that they are getting quality care in a quality setting aimed at improving their long-term wellbeing.”
Councillor Peter Richards, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Services and Health, said:
“The Council has provided significant support to our NHS over the course of the pandemic and we remain committed to doing what we can to alleviate the acute pressures our NHS is now experiencing.
“The increased number of people requiring ongoing care and support following treatment in our NHS means that we need more people to work in social care. We have a significant recruitment campaign underway and I am delighted to welcome those who are starting their career with us this side of Christmas.
“While we are increasing the number of care workers who will support people in their own homes, we also recognise the role the transition beds procured by the Health Board will play in moving people out of acute settings more quickly and will work with health colleagues and residential care providers to make this initiative a success.”
*The West Glamorgan Regional Partnership is a health and social care collaborative, which also includes voluntary and independent sector organisations, community members and carers.