The Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan and Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan for Wales have set out how they will work with local government, NHS and other partners to strengthen local care services in order to help alleviate the kind of pressure on the health and care system seem this winter.
Building on the 670 extra community beds delivered this winter, this new investment will improve people’s chances of living at home independently, increase use of technology and redeploy staff and resources to ensure people living with frailty are supported to live at home.
Where a hospital stay is needed, stronger community services will enable that stay to be as short as possible by enabling people to recover safely and comfortably at home.
The investment will also reduce pressure on hospital beds by preventing hospital admissions through early intervention.
Eluned Morgan said:
It’s estimated that in less than 20 years there will be nearly 150,000 more people aged 75 or older in Wales and there is a projected increase of 61.3% in the Welsh population who are 85 and over. This is a sign of the success of our NHS and is something we should be proud of.
Older people contribute hugely to Welsh society and they tell us what matters to them is fairly simple – if they need care and support, they want to be cared for in familiar surroundings with familiar people and do not want to go to hospital unless this is really necessary.
Research has also shown that people recover better in the comfort of their own home rather than in hospital, where they are less likely to become deconditioned and less likely to pick up infections. We must focus on transforming the way we provide care to enable this.
We need to move the focus from treating short term episodes of ill-health to meeting the needs of more frail and elderly people with multiple health conditions.
I have told health boards that addressing the issue of delayed transfers of care needs to be their number one priority. Because without improving the flow through hospitals almost all other aspects of health care, including waiting lists, will be impacted. This additional funding should help them with that challenge.
Later this year the Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan, will be setting out a long-term vision for strengthening social care.
Julie Morgan said:
I want to see consistency across Wales in the standards of care frail people can expect to get in their community, leading eventually to a community care service for Wales.
I was impressed and encouraged by what was achieved by local authorities and health boards this winter in securing 670 extra community beds across Wales. But now we need to go further, faster to make sure more people can get the care and support they need at home or in their community and spend less time in hospitals.
Eluned Morgan added:
This will not only benefit people and improve outcomes but also improve the flow through our health care system.
This isn’t about the workforce working harder – our amazing health and care staff are already doing everything they can – this is about how decision makers must reshape services so they are fit for the future.
The investment of up to £30m will help to:
• deliver thousands of extra hours of reablement services across Wales – providing as a safe alternative to hospital admission and to keep people at home, or so people can recover at home more quickly after a stay in hospital
• recruit more community workers to advise people on how they can access the right support and services to help them recover and lead independent lives
• ensure every local authority has a Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Responder Service by winter 2024; currently only 10 local authorities