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24 April 2013

Don't forget housing in bed blocking debate

The need for good housing should not be forgotten in the debate about accident and emergency delays and delayed discharge from hospital, warns Care & Repair Cymru, the older people’s housing champion. It follows the recent announcement by Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, of measures to reduce waiting times for emergency treatment by tackling delayed transfers of older people out of hospital.

Chief Executive of Care & Repair Cymru, Chris Jones, argues: ''One of the most cost effective ways of improving this situation is to increase investment in services that make older people''s own homes safe, warm and accessible. Most older people prefer to be at home and such investment, targeted at higher risk frail older people, would prevent or reduce the number of hospital admissions in the first place. However, if older people are waiting to return home, then investment to increase and speed up adaptations and other home improvements that enable them to live safely at home make huge sense.

We have estimated that for every £1 spent adapting an older person’s home, £7.50 is saved to NHS and social service budgets. We have many examples of older patients who have been in hospital, wanting to return home, but their properties are unsuitable. Our intervention in getting a simple adaptation done quickly has enabled many such people to leave hospital and return to a safe environment for them to live independently or be cared for. Investment in schemes such as Care & Repair, Independent Living Grants and Rapid Response Adaptations are tried and tested ways of reducing the burden on our increasingly pressurised NHS.''