In a speech last week, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock spoke about how better technology is vital for the NHS.
Already leading the field in this area is the digital portal, Capacity Tracker, which is proving to be a valuable tool for health and social care staff across England, especially when dealing with winter pressures and helping individuals find a suitable care home once that’s been determined as an appropriate place of discharge.
Built by NHS North of England Commissioning Support (NECS) in partnership with NHS England, Local Authority representatives and care home providers, it enables care homes to make their vacancies instantly visible to all discharge teams across England in real-time and is also helping to improve sustainability in some care homes.
Capacity Tracker has removed the requirement for discharge teams to perform the time-consuming task of speculatively calling care homes to gather up-to-date vacancy information which gives them time to spend on more value-added activities.
Launched last year, Capacity Tracker helps individuals make the right choice, ensuring they don’t stay in hospital any longer than is necessary when discharge from hospital to their own home is not possible. Having the ability to rapidly access care home vacancies across England in real-time helps minimise avoidable Delayed Transfers of Care and frees up beds in acute settings for other patients.
Over 7,500 care homes and circa 13,000 users have already signed up to the system. It takes just 2 minutes to register for access, it’s very easy to use and is accessible from any desktop or mobile device; crucially it takes just 15 seconds for care homes to update or refresh their vacancies and provide visibility of their short and long term availability.
Diane Ashton, a care home trusted assessor at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust said:
“It’s in the patient’s best interests to give them accurate information to help them make the choice that is best for them and Capacity Tracker does this.
“It takes away the confusion individuals and their families often associated with finding a care home and having the ability to search out of the area is an added benefit.
“It’s so easy to use you simply type in the postcode and search radius, and the results are immediate, it has made us so much more effective and efficient, and within 24 hours the patient is usually in their chosen destination.”
The NHS Long Term Plan recently pledged to upgrade NHS support to all care home residents, reduce avoidable long stays in hospital and improve the sharing of information between care homes and NHS staff.
Ruth Holt, NHS England/Improvement (North East and Yorkshire)’s Director of Nursing/Independent Care Sector Regional Lead, said: “Capacity Tracker is an excellent example of how a digital portal can have a significant impact on some of the day-to-day challenges faced by health and social care staff.”
Designed to meet the challenges hospital and social work teams face when trying to find the right care for people medically fit enough to be discharged, it is a vital tool for joining up health and social care professionals and ensuring individuals receive the care they need in the right place at the right time.
Care homes, Local Authorities, CCGs and NHS Trusts were involved in creating the application and users are regularly encouraged to give feedback to improve functionality and promote the benefits of it. You can find out more about Capacity Tracker by visiting www.necsu.nhs.uk/CapacityTracker or follow us on twitter @CapacityTracker. Care homes, NHS and social care teams can also register by visiting https://carehomes.necsu.nhs.uk/.