New figures have shown how delays in releasing hospital patients who need social care support to go home are being reduced in the county’s hospitals.
They come as the annual budget survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) was published this week.
The research by ADASS highlights the challenges that councils face in providing social care support for an aging population at a time when there is considerable financial pressure on local authorities.
Despite these difficulties, the county council has reduced the number of days people have to stay in hospital because of social care delays, known as delayed transfers of care (or DToC), by 53.5% between April 2017 and April 2018. The national average for delayed transfers of care is a reduction of 34.9% for the same period.
County Councillor Charlie Edwards, lead member for health and adult services, said: “Reducing the delayed transfer of care rate is a great achievement.
“We need to do all we can to support people to be safe and well through social care, while reducing pressures on our hospitals and NHS services where we can.
“It is important to build relationships with all of our partners, including the third sector, to think outside the box and come up with innovative ways to deliver care fit for the future.
“We’re pleased that the Government put finances in place last winter through the Improved Better Care Fund, increased social care precept and provided two social care grants. This has meant we’ve been able to take extra steps to improve the way we work with hospitals in recent months.
“I would like to thank our staff who work so tirelessly to keep our most vulnerable residents safe and well looked after whilst in our care.”
Forecasts made in 2017 suggest that the number of people aged 65 and over in Lancashire will increase by 35% by 2035.
Measures the county council has put in place to reduce delayed transfers of care include extra social workers based in the Hospitals to carry out assessments with patients, including at weekends.
It has also worked with NHS partners to jointly introduce a new Home First Service, where people are taken home for social care assessments as soon as they no longer need to be in Hospital.
Social workers and Occupational Therapists meet people as they arrive at their home. The advantage with this service is that the social workers can get a better idea of people’s specific requirements by seeing any issues they face at their home first-hand.
The county council’s work was highlighted on a special report by the BBC which focused on how it works with East Lancashire Hospital Trust to reduce social care delays at Royal Blackburn Hospital.
Tony Pounder, director of adult services for Lancashire County Council, said: “The hospital social care teams are doing really well. They’ve made such great progress and should all be very proud.
“To achieve such a significant reduction in delayed transfers of social care is fantastic. There’s been a lot of hard work behind the scenes.
“We want to continue these improvements and the ADASS recommendations to have more permanent forms of funding in place for social care would be a huge help.”
Sue Lott, the county council’s head of hospital based social care, added: “Staff have worked tirelessly to develop new care pathways so people can get the support they need quicker and have improved working relationships with the NHS.
“We are really proud of our staff, but they’re just doing what they do every day – some really great work that makes a real difference for the people we work with.”
For more information about the ADASS research, visit: www.adass.org.uk/adass-budget-survey-2018
The BBC national news report can be viewed at www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b60g1x/bbc-news-at-ten-14062018# (20:50)