Date Published: 18 January 2010

Overnight hospital stays for older people can be reduced by almost 50%

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

Research from the University of Kent has revealed that a new Department of Health-funded scheme for older people could almost halve overnight stays in hospital and cut accident and emergency attendances by nearly a third.

The scheme, known as the Partnership for Older People Projects (POPP), was launched in 2005 and set up 29 local authority-led pilots, working with their health and voluntary sector partners, across England. The purpose of the pilots was to deliver and evaluate locally innovative approaches to help keep older people healthy, well and independent, and prevent or delay high-intensity or institutional care. The projects developed ranged from low-level services, such as lunch-clubs, to more formal preventive initiatives, such as hospital discharge and rapid-response services. Over a quarter of a million people (264,637) used one or more of these services during the pilot phase.

Due to the success of the pilots, POPP was launched nationally by Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham, on Monday 18 January. Dr Karen Windle from the University of Kent's Personal Social Services Research Unit presented key findings from her report on the pilot scheme to an audience that included Phil Hope, Minister for Care Services, and David Behan, Director General of Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships at the Department of Health.

Dr Windle said:

" The POPP programme, set up to test preventive approaches, demonstrated that prevention and early intervention can "work" for older people. It was also widely thought by staff to have delivered improved services for older people in terms of their quality of life and well-being. It is possible that even greater value could be secured over the longer term, as new projects learn from their experience, and general expertise and confidence grow."

Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham said:

" With more people over 65 than under 18 and increasing pressure on services, we need a new approach to the care and support system that is fair, simple and affordable.

We are radically overhauling the care and support system. Prevention, early intervention and integration of services are all fundamental principles to that reform and our vision to create a National Care Service. But we shouldn't wait to take action to improve the lives of older people today. That is why we have introduced our Personal Care at Home Bill, which will give free support to those in need.

This report also provides valuable evidence that change can happen now. If local NHS and social care services work together to invest in prevention and early intervention, we can cut costs and improve older people's quality of life."

Altogether, 522 organisations were involved with projects across the POPP programme, including: health bodies, such as PCTs, secondary care trusts and ambulance trusts; other bodies, such as the fire service, police and housing associations; national and local voluntary organisations; and private sector organisations. Volunteers, including many older people themselves, also made an important contribution, becoming increasingly significant over the period of the project.

 

Source: The University of Kent

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