Avoiding Hospital Admissions for Elderly People

Friday, 13th January 2017

Social worker is visiting a senior womanHospital admissions amongst older people are a huge issue today and avoiding these is not only key to reducing pressures on the NHS but also improving people’s quality of life. People aged over 65 make up approximately one in six of the population in the UK, but they account for one in two hospital bed days and a third of all outpatient attendances. As the population of older people continues to expand it follows that the number of hospital admissions will increase.

Live-in care and hourly home care services can ensure that older people have the appropriate level of care and support at home to help avoid having to be admitted to hospital or even return home safely upon a hospital discharge.

See below some ways in which care at home can help reduce hospital admissions amongst elderly people.

Building Relationships

A good care at home service must incorporate companionship and enabling client / carer relationships to develop.  Live-in care and hourly home care provide the opportunity to deliver one-to-one care, with carers being matched to clients according to interests, care needs and expertise. There are many benefits that this brings in improving the health and well-being of older people and helping them avoid the need for hospital care or even emergency input from a GP:

  • People are happier, more active and stimulated which often results in better health outcomes
  • A mutual understanding encourages greater independence, more decision making and a willingness to ‘self-care’
  • Carers have a better sense for the client’s well-being and can encourage proactive measures to prevent incidents that could result in hospital admissions. This may involve seeking early intervention for a potential chest infection or Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), addressing dietary concerns or changes to medication

Risk Assessment

Risks that pose a threat to the health and well-being of older people should be assessed both prior to the commencement of care at home and on an ongoing basis. Tailored activities, practices and methods can then be factored in to their individual care plan helping a carer take a ‘proactive’ vs. ‘reactive’ approach to care. Aspects that should be understood and risk assessed include:

  • Communication: Are there any communication difficulties and how should these be addressed?
  • Nutrition and Hydration: How independent would the client like to be and how can intake be encouraged?
  • Mobility: What are the key mobility risks and how are these managed? What level of assistance is required? Should an occupational therapist be involved?
  • Personal Care: What level of support is required to ensure this takes place? Are there any continence issues to be managed?
  • Medication: How are these managed and by who?
  • Mental Health: What level of capacity does the client have and how can they be supported to be as independent as possible?
  • Specialist Care: Does the client require specialist input for a complex condition such as dementia, stroke or Parkinson’s?

Falls Management

Falls are the largest cause of emergency hospital admissions for older people and they also have a significant impact on their long-term outcomes (e.g. being forced to move into a residential care home or nursing home). Ten people aged over 65 died everyday in 2014 as a result of a fall and falls account for 40% of all ambulance call outs to older people.1

Highly personalised care at home provides the peace of mind that support is on-hand to help avoid falls. Mobility needs are assessed regularly to ensure that appropriate help is provided and regular input can be arranged from experts such as occupational therapists or physiotherapists. Adaptations can also be made to the home and mobility aids can be put in place to reduce risk. Other aspects such as proper medication management, arranging eye tests and doing helpful exercises can also be planned.

Medication Management

If people are not taking the correct medications or are doing so at the wrong times their risk of having to go into hospital is likely to increase.

A professional, trained home carer can support an older person with medication management and administration, including working with the pharmacist to ensure medications are delivered correctly and on time.

A home care management team can also work closely with a client’s GP to ensure that changes to the client’s needs are communicated and prescription updates are made accordingly.

Multi-Disciplinary Working

Providers of care at home can work closely alongside other professionals to ensure that an older person is receiving the right input from the right people. This includes escalting concerns where appropriate to help prevent incidents that could result in a hospital admission. Important professionals that may be involved include GPs, District Nurses, mental health teams, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

To learn more about our live-in care and hourly home care services and how we can help you or a relative avoid hospital admissions please do not hesitate to contact us or call us on 01423 774070.

1. Source: Age UK, Later Life in the United Kingdom, December 2016.