Hotels could be used as step down facilities for discharged patients during crisis: Age NI

Woman holding senior woman's hand on bed.
Woman holding senior woman's hand on bed.

HOTELS could be used to house discharged patients as a short term measure to tackle the pressure on the health and social care system, according to the head of Age NI.

Chief Executive Linda Robinson said there is simply not enough staff and resources to provide one-on-one domiciliary care in the community.

Northern Ireland's health trusts announced two weeks ago the new target times for discharging patients with those “medically fit” leaving hospital within 48 hours – if there is a suitable place. The 48 hour window does create “emotional distress” for some families struggling to craft the right care package for their loved ones.

“We also have to recognise that for a significant number of older people they may have no carers, either have no family or maybe a family that does not live in Northern Ireland,” Ms Robinson told BBC Radio Ulster.

The 48 hour target “will not work for everyone and we have to recognise when we are medically fit for discharge we are not necessarily well”.

If a patient is discharged and the care is not appropriate then there is a risk a a quick readmission.

Finding short term solutions is a challenge, particularly as many people do want to be discharged back to their homes or to family. But, Ms Robinson said, that means one-to-one domiciliary care with staff moving from place to place. But there is not enough staff to provide that sort of coverage and it cannot be "brought into place overnight", the chief executive said.

Other short term solutions need to be looked at, including opening up wings of hotels to mirror the old "cottage" hospital step down facilities, Ms Robinson said.

"Pull those community resources together," she added. Care staff forced to move from place to place could be brought together on one site. In the longer term. Age NI wants an independent review of domiciliary care with input from clients, families and providers.