Today the BGS publishes a two page guide for health service commissioners and planners which sets out what local services should be in place to meet the health needs of older care home residents.
Nearly 400,000 older people live in care homes in the UK. Their health and social care needs are complex. All have some disability, many have dementia, and collectively they have high rates of both necessary and avoidable hospital admissions. Standard health care provision meets their needs poorly, but well-tailored services can make a significant difference.
Previous reports published by the BGS, Quest for Quality and Failing the Frail, have drawn attention to existing levels of NHS support for care homes and made recommendations as to how care home residents’ quality of health care can be improved. A recent King’s Fund blog has called into question why care homes aren’t higher on the agenda in debates about health care for older people.
This new guide outlines what the priority services should be for older care home residents. It also explains what the outcomes should be for residents themselves, for the local NHS and for local care homes as a result of having these services in place. It describes what activities will enable these outcomes to be achieved and suggests how services can be monitored and evaluated to see if they are having a positive impact.
The BGS believes that the NHS can play an important role in supporting care home staff to ensure that older residents have a better quality of life. Those responsible for planning community health services must ensure that the needs of their local care home population are not being ignored. Commissioners and health service planners should involve representatives from the care home sector early on when considering what services need to be considered for older residents. This is more likely to ensure that services are designed appropriately and are sustainable.
It is likely that a combination of approaches whereby residents have access to enhanced, proactive, primary care and through this, access to a range of specialist services (such as allied health professionals, community pharmacists, old age psychiatrists and community geriatricians) will deliver the best outcomes. It is important the efforts of existing health professionals are co-ordinated more effectively so that residents don’t fall between the referral criteria for health services.
The BGS is holding a one day conference on Managing Complexity in Older People within the Community in Harrogate on 20 November 2013. This will include a focus on commissioning appropriate services for care homes.