Somerset’s health and social care partnership blazing a trail nationally

Photo of Somerset resident Susan Williams

Pioneering work in Somerset to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and help people get better at home has proven so successful it is being used to help shape national policy, Councillors heard this week.

Somerset County Council’s Cabinet this week received an update on the Somerset Intermediate Care Service, which supports people to stay at home for longer, recover at home, or return home more quickly after a hospital stay.

Reablement – support at home which helps people get back on their feet and live independently again as quickly as possible – is a critical element of Somerset’s Intermediate Care service, and is the subject of the latest Covid Catch-up film which tells the story of Susan Williams, whose recovery at home was supported by the service.

Demand for intermediate care in Somerset has increased by 20% during the pandemic. Despite this, Somerset remains one of the best performers nationally for discharging people home from hospital, where they have a better chance of recovery compared to long stays in hospital. By March 2021, over 94% of people over 65 were going home from hospital, significantly exceeding government targets.  

Anna Littlewood, Deputy Director for Adults and Health Operations at Somerset County Council said: “Our groundbreaking Intermediate Care Service has seen an additional 631 people return home from hospital this winter compared to the same time last year.

“This is so important, because just 10 days of hospital bed rest for healthy older people can equate to 10 years of muscle ageing and loss of function, and getting people home means they can keep their independence. The numbers support this too – since moving to the intermediate care model we’ve seen an 81% reduction in people going into long term care direct from hospital, and discharges into long term care now account for less than 1% of all discharges. This really is a phenomenal result.

“Prevention is better than cure, and huge efforts have also been made to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions (which can prove fatal for frail older people) through our Rapid Response Service. We have also seen 62% of adult social care contacts in A&E given the help they need to stay out of hospital.”

Tracy Evans, Service Director for Primary Care Neighbourhoods at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust said: “Intermediate Care is all about partnerships – we’ve seen the most incredible collaboration this year, and the list of partners keeps growing. It’s wonderful to see health and social care professionals working together more closely than ever before to help Somerset residents get the care they need care closer to home. We’ve had fantastic feedback from residents about the care they have received, and are thrilled that this new way of working is getting the national recognition it deserves. Intermediate care puts people first, and it’s a real privilege to be part of this project.”

Mel Lock, Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care said: “Our brilliant adult social care and health staff which include our fantastic Domiciliary, Residential and Nursing providers have been working closely with communities and voluntary organisations to ensure the people of Somerset have access to support services which are truly local and tailored to the individual.

“Together, they have challenged the conventional system which mainly focuses on the types of care a person should be given, and have instead pushed for a bold vision – something which empowers people by involving them in decisions about their care, and supports them to live as independently as possible. Well done to everyone involved in delivering this excellent service for the benefit of the people of Somerset. You truly are improving lives.”

Somerset’s Intermediate Care Service was also recently hailed as one of the best in the country by John Bolton, visiting Professor at the Institute of Public Care.

You can find out more about the Intermediate Care Service at

The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, is open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm, offering a range of support – from help accessing food or medicines, to emotional and financial support, and employment, skills and business advice.