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THE number of patients who need extra care when they leave hospital appears to be improving, Swansea Council has said.

Ensuring a timely flow of patients out of hospital creates more capacity in wards and emergency departments.

Some frail patients are only fit for discharge if there is a council-facilitated package of care or care home place waiting for them.

Meeting this demand is a significant challenge across the NHS, and there was a 68% rise in the number of these delayed cases in Swansea in the first quarter of 2019-20 compared to the same period the previous year.

The figure, which was for patients aged 75 and over, was contained in a council performance report.

Asked about the 68% increase, and what the latest delayed transfer of care figures were, a council spokesman explained that Swansea Bay University Health Board had changed the way it collated the figures. This, he said, “partially explains” why the figures for the first and also the second quarter of 2019-20 were higher than in 2018-19. He said the council worked very closely with the health board to minimise hospital discharge delays. “Despite significant pressures on the domiciliary care market, recent operational changes to services by the council is helping to improve flow through the system,” he said.

The council runs a reablement service to help patients regain independence after a hospital stay.

Over the summer it also issued new contracts to external domiciliary care providers, whose staff help mainly elderly people with things like washing and dressing at home. One of the objectives was to try to ensure there were enough carers to cover Swansea, particularly rural areas.

There were 84 social services delayed transfers of care in Swansea in the first quarter of 2019-20, and 70 in the second quarter.
Encouragingly, the latest monthly figure was lower compared to last year.

“Initial signs show a positive improvement in November 2019,” said the spokesman.

Separately, the health board set up a delayed transfer of care improvement team late last year to reduce the number of cases.

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