Southern Health Trust rolls out a acute care at home programme, to free up NI hospital beds

Many elderly patients are now receiving hospital care at home in a bid to free up beds, as health trusts continue to struggle with overcrowding. 

The Southern Health Trust has rolled out a new acute care at home programme, which provides hospital level care for frail, older patients.

Dr Patricia McCaffery, the Trust's Medical Director for Older People, said the clinical outcome is better for patients who are not stuck in hospital.  

"I do feel that this is the way forward," she said.

One of her team's patients, Reginald Anderson, became ill with a chest infection. The 90 year-old has been receiving IV antibiotics and oxygen at home, instead of in hospital.

He said he feels more comfortable in his own home. 

Health Trusts have been trying to find new ways of caring for patients amid ongoing workforce and capacity pressures.

There has been a push to discharge patients as quickly as possible from hospital to free up beds. 

The majority of those patients need ongoing domiciliary care, however the home care sector has been struggling to meet high levels of demand. 

And the sector faces further difficulties as the Department of Health heads into the new financial year with a £300 million shortfall and has warned some services may have to be reduced. 

Potentially the availability of domiciliary care packages could have to be reduced. 

Ryan Williams, from Connected Health - a home care provider - warned: "I think the mere suggestion of it is really problematic with that amount of unmet need already."

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