Delayed Discharges: The importance of disability equipment and adaptations
Delayed discharges and delayed transfers of care are always making the headlines. The role and deployment of disability equipment including adaptations should be given serious consideration with regards to this ongoing and increasing problem, especially as there are approximately 12 million pieces of equipment provided to 3.5 million service users in the UK each year, and therefore a lot of scope for things going wrong. Sadly though, equipment is still viewed as a bolt-on and assumed service, and is not always seen as a strategic player.
Here are some of the many equipment-related reasons for hospital discharges being delayed:
- delayed and problematic service user requirements and home assessments
- arranging suitable times and dates, etc. for equipment to be delivered and/or installed in the service user’s home
- adaptations, complex, specialist and/or children’s equipment are required, which take time to acquire
- complex packages of care involving different health and social care agencies
- equipment package provided from different sources
- cross-border difficulties, i.e. discharging a service user into a different county/local authority boundary
- poor communication and formal arrangements between hospital and community-based staff
- funding issues.
To help reduce delayed discharges, where equipment is concerned, the following standards should be followed. These are taken from our Code of Practice:
1.Both hospital and community-based staff work to mutually agreed hospital discharge assessment and access criteria to manage service users both with temporary impairment and chronic, permanent conditions.
2.There are fast-tracking arrangements in place, and included in hospital discharge procedures, to ensure people with rapidly progressing conditions and terminal illnesses can access routine and complex equipment urgently.
3.Hospital staff responsible for discharging service users are trained in both the assessment and the provision aspects of equipment.
4.Where service users require equipment to facilitate a hospital discharge, the process is reflected within a mutually agreed policy between hospital and community-based health and social care organisations. This includes a communication plan with community staff, and also equipment services. This reflects the operational functions of the equipment services, e.g. contact details, opening hours, delivery schedules. It also includes cross-border arrangements, and links with different agencies.
5.Where third-party providers or suppliers are used as part of core provision, there is a protocol demonstrating the ordering and delivery processes where a service user needs equipment from different sources to enable a safe hospital discharge. This links to the hospital discharge policy.
Of course, all of the above need to be supplemented with having the right commissioning, service provision and clinical arrangements in place. We have included all of these areas in our Code of Practice. See the areas covered by the Code HERE
The Code of Practice is free to organisations working with CECOPS. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more information about the Code and CECOPS, and in particular how these can help you with delayed discharges.