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Council looks to ease winter pressures on social care

Derbyshire County Council says it is putting plans in place to cope with increasing demand for its health and social care services this winter.

Extra pressure is placed on home care services and hospitals at this time of year as the number of older and vulnerable people in the county continues to rise.

The county council is investing an extra £3.6m from the Department for Health and Social Care to ensure people continue to receive care or get the extra support they need.

Home care and residential care staff, social workers and managers are working seven days a week to ensure community services are in place to prevent hospital admissions or support people ready to go home.

Social workers are based at Chesterfield Royal, Tameside General and Royal Derby hospitals to support people who are ready to be discharged.

And figures reveal the number of Derbyshire people waiting to be discharged from hospital due to social care delays are among the lowest in the country for a shire county.

The numbers of bed days lost have reduced from 3,008 in 17/18 to 1,666 in 18/19 – putting the county council in the top three performing shire authorities in England.

Councillor Jean Wharmby, the county council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Care, said: “Our staff always work incredibly hard to ensure that Derbyshire residents get the care and support they need.

“Our work, and that of our partners, is paying off as our figures for the numbers of delayed discharges from hospital have put us consistently in the top performing county councils.

“However we are not complacent and we are continuing to invest in our services for older and vulnerable people.”

Among measures that have been put in place by Derbyshire County Council are:

  • Increased staffing for community support beds, particularly in the north of the county, for older and vulnerable people who no longer need acute care in hospital but who are not well enough to go straight home.
  • Adopting a new system – called Discharge to Assess - which allows older people to leave hospital to have their health and social care needs assessed at home instead.
  • Extra social workers on duty at weekends and bank holidays at Royal Derby, Chesterfield Royal and Stepping Hill hospitals to help people return home sooner.
  • Providing six weeks of practical support as part of its Home from Hospital service designed to help people returning home from hospital or to prevent admission in the first place.
  • Supporting independent care homes including extra cash for staff training, increasing staff travel payments and paying a retainer to ensure placements remain open if a client is admitted to hospital at short notice.
  • Provide dedicated social worker support at community hospitals and recruiting more in the High Peak to help Derbyshire patients leaving hospitals outside the county.

The county council is also encouraging front line staff to take up the offer of free flu jabs to prevent spreading the illness to older, more vulnerable people they care for.

Councillor Wharmby added: “We are doing all we can to ensure older and vulnerable people across Derbyshire get the care and support they need this winter.

“But we can all do our bit to keep people safe and I’d urge family, friends and neighbours to keep an eye out for elderly, disabled or vulnerable people this winter.”

Older people can stay well this winter by following these guidelines:

  • Treating winter illnesses at home with over-the-counter medicines and plenty of rest. People should ensure they have in-date self-care treatments in their medicine cabinet.
  • People can get advice on minor illnesses or managing long-term conditions from their local pharmacy. If people need to see a doctor they will be advised by the pharmacist.
  • If people have a sprain, strain, broken bone or wound infection they can get help from a minor injuries unit rather than going to accident and emergency.
  • Walk-in centres can give people health advice and treatment for minor injuries and ailments without an appointment.
  • 111 is the NHS free phone number to call when people need medical help but it is not an emergency. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  • The doctors’ surgery provides a wide range of services for people including general health checks, health improvement advice, vaccinations, examinations, treatments and prescriptions.

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