By Aaron Speight
Blog 4 February 2016

Care homes are coming under increased pressure to support the NHS by providing a layer of intermediate care that will help reduce the burden on acute hospital services. Care home residents experience 40-50% more emergency admissions and A&E attendances than the general population aged 75 and over, so any increased role has to be supported by improved patient management.

Simple digital vital signs monitoring

Under pressure staff, cost pressures and poor connectivity with primary care all contribute to a lack of proactive symptom management.  Simply monitoring residents’ blood pressure, weight and hydration levels with information being fed directly into GP systems will help maintain health and prevent escalation to more specialist services. Measuring these indicators on a regular basis will act as an early warning system, if changes in residents’ health occur, they are highlighted in a timely manner.

Bridging the gap between secondary and community care

Care homes can play a central role in filling the intermediate care vacuum – but only if the staff have the correct knowledge and skills, services are connected to local primary care providers and care is proactive.

Whilst many care homes already monitor vital signs, few integrate information into the NHS – a central requirement if escalation to secondary care is to be avoided. The NHS have called for a clear strategy to free up hospital beds for those in need; firstly, by preventing avoidable hospital admissions and secondly, by supporting timely hospital discharge. This all starts by bridging the gap between secondary and community care.

It’s vital patient data is integrated into GP systems. This will improve the coordination between care homes and the local NHS because results can be viewed by all departments. If readings fall outside of a patient’s normal range, the appropriate NHS team is alerted, and appropriate action is taken. Changes in health are highlighted early on, reducing the likelihood of hospital admission. The service supports earlier hospital discharge because it gives clinicians the confidence that if the patient is discharged, their full needs will be being met with regular and close monitoring.

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