Care home beds sit empty despite hospital bed blocking crisis

A care boss has insisted it is “criminal” that homes across Southend have beds lying idle while Southend Hospital struggles to discharge patients into the community.

Michael Daley, chairman of the South Essex Care and Health Association, has urged the hospital and Southend Council to work with care homes to free up space at the hospital.

The association’s bed register shows there are 45 beds empty across the 17 care homes in the group.

Southend Council is reluctant to place patients in care homes rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement” despite a bed blocking crisis.

Mr Daley, who is also resident manager at Cavell Lodge, said: “A lot of these homes have got empty beds. I don’t understand why they are not being placed in some of these.

“We’re in a crisis situation. Surely it would be better to move somebody elderly into a warm home, which is more homely than keeping them in an acute area blocking the bed for somebody that needs it.”

Abbeyfield care home in Westcliff is rated as good but has nine empty beds. Melrose care home in Southend, which requires improvement, has 15 unoccupied beds. Mr Daley added ’If you are in hospital for weeks on end, I think it’s pretty criminal to be honest.”

Owen Richards, for Southend Healthwatch, said: “We hear many stories about people having to stay longer in hospital because they can’t be discharged to a care home or their own home with a care package.

“This has a knock-on to their overall wellbeing as they could pick up an infection, or lose muscle strength, let alone the impact on their mental health. The pressures on A&E are in part due to the problems in discharging inpatients. No one wins in this situation.”

Kay Mitchell, councillor responsible for adult social care and health integration, said: “Care homes which have been rated requires improvement or inadequate have found to not be delivering good quality care by the independent national inspectorate.

“We keep in regular contact with care homes to find appropriate beds for the small number of people who need them, and I would encourage care homes who are good or outstanding and who have beds that could accept someone from hospital to contact us.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter