The lack of appropriate safeguards mean that frail and elderly patients are in an ‘endless cycle’ of re-admissions into accident and emergency departments, a new report from the British Red Cross has warned.
In and Out of Hospital, published last week, also found that vulnerable people are ’having to reach crisis point’ before they receive support.
The charity recommended included ensuring all discharge checklists assess equipment and medication needs, automatic home assessments for those who live alone prior to them being discharged, and investment in multidisciplinary teams who can work with those at risk of being re-admitted.
The British Red Cross have raised a number of concerns not only regarding those who are discharged without support, but those who remain stuck in hospital due to a lack of care at home.
The charity, who used a combination of surveys, in-depth interviews and focus groups, took the insights from those working in hospitals, and in the community, as well as those who use the Red Cross support services, to develop the report and recommendations.
The report stated: ‘All too often, we see vulnerable people having to reach a crisis point before they receive support. Others are caught in an endless cycle of avoidable hospital readmissions, with too many missed opportunities to rectify this.’
They found that many older or vulnerable people don’t feel safe in their own homes and fear being discharged. They warned: ‘Appropriate safeguards must also be in place before vulnerable people are discharged.’
Chief executive of the British Red Cross Mike Adamson said: ‘The NHS is rightly a source of national pride, but despite the best efforts of hardworking doctors and nurses we know that many of our hospitals remain under serious pressure this winter. When the system is strained, all too often it is frail, older people who live alone that are falling into crisis in the gap between home and hospital’.
‘We believe that routine home inspections, when someone vulnerable is discharged from hospital, could flag basic steps that would prevent dangerous falls and repeat admittance to hospital. This could dramatically ease the flow of patients in and out of hospitals, helping to free up critical bed space’.