Digital tool to help reduce avoidable lengthy stays in hospital

North of England Commissioning Support Unit’s Capacity Tracker, a Leading Healthcare Award winner has received national exposure and is being rolled-out by the NHS and councils across England.

The digital platform allows health and social care staff to see how many vacancies there are in local care homes, saving hours of time phoning around to check availability and helping people to get the right care or return home as quickly as possible.

The digital portal is accessible on any device, and takes care homes just 30 seconds to upload details of their available beds, helping health and social care staff to find the right services for individual patients, including those with dementia or a learning disability.

Over 6,250 care homes have already signed up to the system, piloted in the North, Devon and Berkshire last year, and now thousands more can sign up to use it.

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England said: “One of the central ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan is to better support people to age well, and that means joining up different services locally to better meet people’s needs.”

“By using this technology to work together more closely, hospitals, local authorities and care homes can ensure that people get the right care in the right place at the right time, and aren’t left waiting in hospital unnecessarily.”

“Working with our local government, hospitals and community services as well as patients and their families has been essential to developing this new approach and will be key to rolling it out everywhere.”

Glen Garrod, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: “We know that for the vast majority of people, they are most comfortable staying in their own homes in their local communities for as long as possible, so every effort should be made to keep people well and where it’s possible and safe, to prevent the need to be admitted to hospital, or indeed a residential setting, in the first place.”

“However, if people do need to go to hospital then health and social care must work together to support people through their period in hospital, and on discharge to help them return home where ever that is possible. We must think ‘home first’. If after a thorough discussion with the person and their family, it is decided that going home is not an option and a residential care home is required then it is important we work together, with individuals and their families, to support them to make an informed choice based upon the information and advice provided.”