The dramatic drop in the number of people stuck in hospital waiting for suitable care to become available is thanks to a “lot of hard work” by the community and acute services, according to head of community health and social care Simon Bokor-Ingram.
Speaking at a meeting of the social services committee on Wednesday, he said delayed discharges this week were down to two – there is typically an average of eight delayed discharges in Shetland at any one time.
Delayed discharges, more commonly known as bed blocking, have been an ongoing problem locally as well as nationally. They occur when a hospital in-patient, almost always an older person, is clinically ready for discharge but continues to occupy a bed.
Mr Bokor-Ingram said most of the recent discharges had been into the “community”, not into care centres, and it was “really important” that services could be sustained through the next winter. This was an “incredibly important topic” he said, as staying in hospital “disables people”.
He said that the expectations of patients and families needed to change and that moving into a care centre might not be the best option. However, he was “very sensitive” to people’s wishes.
Mr Bokor-Ingram said there had been a lot of support with dementia care following the closure of the long-stay hospital at Montfield – he called the closure a “very successful project”.
But, he said, unless support for people in their own home could be sustained there was a danger of running out of capacity: “We need more care, not care centres.” Recruitment was taking place for carers through the Intermediate Care Team.
He added that there was no “buffer” of private care provision in Shetland
The Scottish government target from April is for people to wait no more than 14 days to be discharged into a “more appropriate” care setting.