A home care technology specialist has questioned the safety of the government’s ‘home and hotel’ plan, which will see patients released from hospital early in a bid to free up beds.
Under the plan, thousands of hospital patients are to be discharged to hotels and their homes to prevent NHS services from being overwhelmed.
But with a severe shortage of carers, Helen Dempster, chief visionary officer at predictive care solutions supplier Karantis360, is concerned about the safety of this strategy.
In an open letter, she said: “The recent ‘home and hotel’ plan released by the government is alarming. There is no doubt that we need to free up much needed hospital beds and that individuals are indeed better being cared for in their own home – I have been championing that idea for a long time. But with a severe shortage of carers, how will this strategy of early discharge be executed safely?”
Dempster said there needs to be a more “holistic approach” to uniting clinical care and social care in order to achieve better patient outcomes and reduce NHS pressure, and that technology holds the key.
“Had we not waited until we were in the midst of a pandemic to address a long-time issue whereby those without critical care needs can be cared for and monitored in their own homes instead of blocking much needed NHS beds, then we perhaps wouldn’t be faced with this unsafe discharge model,” she said.
“There are indeed readily-available technology solutions out there to address this exact problem while also considering the UK carer shortage. Remote patient monitoring, for example, which does not require a medically trained care worker to operate, can enable behavioural patterns to be learned and anomalies can be quickly flagged to carers, family members or clinicians. Biometric data can also be remotely monitored in the same way that it would in an acute setting. For example, typical vital sign checks that are usually performed by a clinician can now be accessed remotely in real time.”
Dempster urged the government to arm health care workers with these technology solutions, and protect patients by discharging them into a safe environment where they can be remotely monitored to ensure their health doesn’t escalate to a critical level.
“Bed blocking in the NHS has been a long-term problem and the discharge model needs to change once and for all,” she concluded.