Last Updated: 25 Sep 2017 4:19pm
An initiative which is helping reduce delays faced by patients who are ready to leave hospital has won an industry award and been commended in another.
The West Kent Hospital Discharge Scheme picked up the 'Excellent Partnership' prize in the Kent Housing Group & Kent Joint Policy & Planning Board for Housing Excellence Awards on Wednesday 13 September and was Commended in the 'Collaboration' category at the national Foundations Home Improvement Agency awards on Thursday 14 September.
Sevenoaks District Council, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council launched the innovative scheme last November in collaboration with Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and Family Mosaic to help patients ready for discharge return home more quickly and ensure hazards in the home, that may cause readmission, are removed.
A Health and Housing Co-ordinator works in the hospital discharge team to ensure they are involved with patients at an early stage. By being on the wards in Tunbridge Wells Hospital, they can identify and overcome obstacles preventing patients from returning home.
The service offered includes a detailed assessment of the home to offer further advice and financial assistance through Housing Assistance and Disabled Facilities Grants and access to a handyperson.
Crucially the handyperson can react quickly to requests for works that can either allow a swift hospital discharge or undertake essential home repairs to prevent further accidents including falls in and around the home, reducing the need to be readmitted into hospital.
Within five months, 111 residents across the three council areas had been helped saving at least 121 unnecessary nights in hospital and in doing so, saving the NHS an estimated £54,450.
The latest data from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust found that the scheme, along with other initiatives, has significantly reduced delayed transfers of care for patients attending the hospitals within the Trust who live in Kent.
Recently the scheme was extended to Darenth Valley Hospital in Dartford and discussions are ongoing to also cover Maidstone Hospital.
Professor John Ashton, a leading public health consultant says: "This is a splendid example of what should be happening everywhere. For too long housing has been the weak link in joined up health and social care. The next step is to make sure that every hospital board has somebody on it who has a housing background."
Cllr Michelle Lowe, Sevenoaks District Council's Cabinet Member for Housing and Health, adds: "Too many patients, who are ready to leave the hospital, face serious delay as their homes are no longer suitable for their needs or they cannot access the services they need. But with councils working closely with health, we can provide a range of housing services, so patients can leave much hospital sooner."
"This is obviously good news for patients. They do not want to send any more time in hospital than is necessary. It's also good news for the NHS saving thousands of pounds. While it's early days for the scheme, we are already seeing positive results that are making a real difference to people's lives."
Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Sophie Shrubsole says: "We are delighted that this worthwhile initiative has been recognised within the industry. The scheme goes from strength to strength thanks to the hard work of many people and it's a great example of partnership working."
Cllr Lynne Weatherly, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing, says: "Working with our neighbouring councils and the NHS on such an important and very practical initiative which will help get people out of hospital and back in to the familiar environment of their own home as soon as possible is giving some very positive outcomes. Having the service based in the hospital means a quick response to what the patient needs which is a better result for everyone."