Gill Plimmer is right to highlight the harrowing impact of Covid-19 on our elderly care sector. But while the pandemic has created shocking challenges for care homes across the UK, it has also cast a light on old issues.
Prior to Covid-19, general and acute hospital bed numbers had declined by 34 per cent since 1989, leading to growing pressure to reduce bed-blocking, but often without the appropriate aftercare or care pathways to support discharge. The recent failures to test patients for Covid-19 appropriately at discharge is indicative of this strain.
But our acute services cannot be left to fill the gaps in elderly care, while patients cannot go without the extra care required. Investment in appropriate provision is critical, including new outpatient beds, meaningful integration with community teams and access to therapies and outpatient services through treatment and care centres
The capacity of care provision is clearly a further challenge, but the suitability of services warrants closer attention. By 2040, 13 million people above the age of 65 will live in unsuitable accommodation. Not only do we need investment in new beds and homes, we must think seriously about how we design care homes that balance safety with efficiency and privacy with wellbeing.
Only by investing in appropriate aftercare and building safe and suitable capacity can we provide the elderly care homes that our communities deserve.
Source: Financial Times