Demand for hospital beds leads to more elderly admissions to care homes

A high demand for hospital beds has led to a sharp rise in the number of elderly Havering residents being permanently sent to care homes.

The number of permanent admissions to residential or nursing homes between July and September was 164, double the amount in the same period last year.

This is due to hospitals needing to free up beds quickly during the pandemic and the breakdown of arrangements for care in the community.

Lucy Goodfellow, Havering’s policy and performance business partner, said: “There are two major contributing factors, the first is being significantly driven by hospital discharges, 62.8% of admissions were via hospitals, compared to 35% before the pandmeic. 

“That’s a result of vastly increased hospital admissions into the trust itself. 

“Also there is the community factor, during the pandemic there’s been a breakdown of care arrangements, with changes in client needs which haven’t been addressed, due to certain services within the community being unavailable at points during the pandemic.”

The continued high demand for care is expected to take at least £2.5million out of Havering’s annual budget, contributing to a financial situation that could see 400 council staff lose their jobs.

In October last year, Havering’s budget forecast showed the average cost of residential homes is £963 a week per person and nursing homes £885.

Although the number of people in care homes has remained stable at around 700 for the last four years, the average cost has been steadily increasing.

Hospitals are responsible for funding the first four weeks of care after discharging people in need but higher costs agreed by the NHS and then creating a “challenging” situation for Havering Council once responsibility is transferred over.

To reduce costs Ms Goodfellow said the council is challenging care assessments “where appropriate to do so”, undertaking targeted reviews of the most expensive care packages and preventing discharges to care homes “where they can be avoided

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter