Hospital stays reduced thanks to Home First

A new social care and health initiative in Somerset has already helped hundreds of people return safely home earlier from hospital.

Since the initiative launched in September over 300 people have been supported to move on from hospital sooner and average stays in hospital have been reduced by five days for each person.

As soon as someone no longer needs medical support in hospital, Home First allows people to leave hospital rather than waiting on the ward for care assessments and rehabilitation planning, which can take time. Instead they receive those assessments and support at home, or in a specialist unit, care home or community hospital, to help them get back on their feet.

People will get the support they need, but in a difference place where it can be more effective.

The Home First approach has been adopted both at Taunton’s Musgrove Park Hospital and Yeovil District Hospital.

Watch a short film of Tim Baverstock, Commissioning Manager at Somerset County Council, and Kate Smith, Therapy Services Lead at Musgrove Park Hospital, talking about Home First and how it is making a difference to people:

Cllr David Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Adults Services at Somerset County Council, said: “There really is no place like home when it comes to getting better after a stay in hospital. Getting back to our lives, our own routines and regaining independence after a stay in hospital plays an essential part in our recovery, both mentally and physically.

“Working with our colleagues in health, we are helping people to get better quicker and freeing up essential bed space in hospitals at this busy time of year.”

Kate Smith, who is responsible for therapy services at Musgrove Park Hospital, said: “Since the Home First initiative was introduced at Musgrove in late September, almost 190 more patients have been able to leave hospital earlier to be supported at home, and a further 47 patients are currently on the Home First pathway. This has also freed up almost 20 hospital beds a week.

“We are seeing that patients who are on the Home First pathway tend to stay five fewer days in hospital than they normally would have.

“We know that patients recover quicker when they are in the familiar surroundings of their own home and have a much greater chance of regaining their independence. They are also less likely to need social care and other support in the longer term.

“Many of our patients and their families have told us that they were very happy to be home sooner with support from therapists in their home. We know that there is still work to be done though to make sure services are more joined up and our patients get the reassurance they need to feel confident being cared for at home rather than in hospital.”

Andrea’s story

Andrea is 82 and lives alone. Following a nasty fall at her home, she was admitted to hospital for treatment and scans. Previously, she would’ve had to wait in hospital for Adult Social Care assessments to be done and therapy to be arranged before deciding on the next steps in her recovery.

But instead, under Home First, she went home 11 days later. Initially Andrea had four visits a day from a carer, and use of a walking frame and kitchen trolley to help her move around her home. The visits from the carer were reduced week by week until she could cope on her own.

Andrea said: “At first I thought it was a bit quick to be returning home, but I am so glad I went home when I did. The Adult Social Care staff in the hospital were great. They talked me through my discharge plan and I was able to discuss any worries I had. The therapy and support I received when I was home was brilliant, and I felt I had the support I needed to stay safe and regain my independence. I’m now fine and I don’t need any more support.”