Exploring The Impact of Delayed Hospital Discharges

Exploring The Impact of Delayed Hospital Discharges

Despite government initiatives, delayed hospital discharges remain a significant concern for families, hospitals, and local authorities. Within the social care sector, the increase in delayed hospital discharges arises from a multifaceted array of factors. This can further be worsened when an unnecessary hospital admission turns into a long-term inpatient stay, leading to a range of adverse effects and consequences for the individual and their family.

What are Delayed Hospital Discharges?

Delayed discharge refers to situations where care recipients remain in the hospital longer than necessary after their acute medical needs have been addressed. This delay can occur for various reasons, such as a lack of appropriate community-based support services, difficulty finding suitable accommodation, challenges coordinating care between hospital and community providers, or delays in assessments for ongoing care needs.

These delays can have a significantly negative impact on well-being, increase strain on hospital resources and prevent access to the right care in the community.

Today, there are almost 2,050 people with autism and learning disabilities detained in inpatient care under the Mental Health Act. Based on the NHS’s February report last year, 41% of the detained individuals do not need to be there. Additionally, 10% of people experience discharge delays every month due to a lack of community provision.

When individuals no longer meet the criteria for hospitalisation, their home environment usually provides the most suitable setting for ongoing care and support. However, discharging patients and the overall discharge process often prove challenging due to limited care and support options within the local community.

Efforts to address delayed hospital discharges involve:

  • Improving coordination between healthcare and social care services.
  • Increasing the availability of community-based support options.
  • Ensuring timely assessments and transitions to appropriate care settings.

Impact on Individuals

Last year, Catalyst Care Group conducted a white paper survey collecting answers from healthcare assistants, families and commissioners. The results outlined a significantly negative impact for a number of patients who experienced delayed hospital discharges. This is a challenge not just for the individuals and their families but also for the healthcare staff, who are wholeheartedly committed to providing the best care possible.

The survey answers point out:

  • Increased stress
  • Increased trauma
  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Increased lack of trust in healthcare professionals

Isolation, disruption of routines and the strain that it puts on everyone involved are also part of the negative impact of delayed hospital discharge delays.

Based on a CQC review, about 60% of hospital discharges for people with a learning disability, autism or mental health condition were delayed. The conclusions drawn from this report are not novel. There has been longstanding awareness of the inadequate care received by individuals with complex care needs, with healthcare professionals often failing to meet their needs on time. Our report serves as a reminder of this issue and highlights the significant impact these deficiencies have on individuals and their families.

This impact of delayed discharge can be profound. We’ve heard accounts of how disregarding the needs of people with learning disabilities and autism and failing to listen to them can be distressing for the individuals themselves, their families and caregivers. These negative experiences hinder people’s health outcomes and may contribute to poor quality of life and highly negative consequences. Additionally, they can result in traumatic experiences.

It’s evident that improved communication, genuine involvement, and home-like environments are crucial factors in enhancing people’s care experiences. We all have the power to influence the community care system and reduce discharge delays by preventing unnecessary hospital admissions in the first place.

Strain on Healthcare Resources

Delayed discharges contribute significantly to the strain on healthcare resources. When people remain in acute hospitals longer than necessary due to delays in discharge processes, it places additional pressure on hospital bed availability, staffing, and overall resources. This strain not only impacts the hospital’s ability to admit new patients promptly but also leads to increased healthcare costs and decreased patient satisfaction.

Additionally, delayed discharges can disrupt the continuity of care and add challenges to the individual’s healthcare journey. Addressing delayed discharge is crucial for alleviating strain on healthcare resources and improving overall system efficiency and effectiveness.

Role of Community Health Providers

Based on our survey results, individuals receiving community-based services reported experiencing a higher level of person-centred care and a better quality of life than those with similar complex needs in hospital settings. The environments tended to be more home-like, and individuals had increased access to the community, which is important for well-being. However, the quality of home care received varied and was influenced by factors such as the availability and expertise of staff members.

Community health providers play an important role in ensuring patients discharged from hospitals receive proactive care and support patients in their healthcare journey. Every individual deserves equal access to health, social care, and mental health services. Making community services available for everyone would significantly reduce delayed discharges and out-of-area placements.

The Importance of Effective Discharge Planning and Multidisciplinary Collaboration

According to the Equality Act 2010, individuals with disabilities have the equal right to fair treatment and protection from discrimination. This entails implementing reasonable measures to prevent them from being treated unfairly and to ensure they have equal access, experiences, and outcomes.

In health and care settings, reasonable adjustments may be necessary to achieve equal access, experiences, and outcomes. For instance, this could involve using communication aids or sensory tools, with providers making specific adaptations to assist individuals in expressing their preferences and planning their care.

It’s important that people with complex care needs benefit from effective discharge planning through multidisciplinary collaboration and understanding their unique needs and preferences. Making such reasonable adjustments for individuals with learning disabilities and autism is crucial not only to safeguard their human rights but also to fulfil them.

Catalyst Care Group is Dedicated to Prevent Delayed Hospital Discharges

We believe that people autistic people, people with learning disabilities, and neurodiverse people should have equal access to proactive and person-centred care and support in their own homes or home-like environments. Being detained under the Mental Health Act should be the last port of call for people with complex care needs. In our extensive experience, we have learnt that working together across different sectors and creating sustainable and consistent connections is the key to making a change, one person at a time.

If you need additional information on how we can support you or to make a referral, contact our Referrals and Admissions team today.

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