Nursing homes need better, more timely information from hospitals when patients are discharged or returned into their care, the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) said today (18th July).
In its response to Care Quality Commission (CQC) recommendations for improving co-ordination between health and social care providers, the RNHA wants the NHS to review the way it interacts with nursing home staff on important clinical matters that can materially affect individuals’ recovery in the period immediately after their hospital discharge.
Said RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell: “We need a big shake up of the whole system. As the CQC has pointed out, care home staff often don’t receive even the most basic information about the people being discharged to them.
“More worryingly, they may not be told about the medication the patient has been receiving in hospital. Yet these details are vital when a vulnerable individual with multiple health conditions is moved from one care setting to another.”
He added: “It would help if the NHS and social care providers could work out an agreed protocol for sharing information. This must be a two-way process, of course. So if there are improvements we need to make in the way we communicate with hospitals when our residents are admitted to hospital, let us identify what has to be done by learning from and building on existing good practice across the country.”
“Specifically, the CQC should follow up its recommendations by calling on the Department of Health to set up a joint task force, with representation from the NHS, local authorities and social care providers, to come up with practical solutions.”
Mr Ursell concluded: “For the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of older people looked after in long-term residential care – many of whom come to us initially from hospital and many of whom need to be re-admitted to hospital if their condition deteriorates to the point of necessitating acute treatment once again – there should be standardised procedures for staff at both ends to follow in communicating key information.
“But unless the CQC pushes the Department of Health into action, this report will simply sit on a shelf gathering dust.”