Despite the extreme financial pressures on public services, the Welsh Government has held back an extra £8 million this winter to support people at greatest risk to stay well, receive care at or close to home and reduce pressure on hospitals.
The funding will wrap care around the most vulnerable in our communities to help them avoid hospital admissions. Research also shows that people are more likely to recover better at home than in hospital and the Welsh Government wants people to be able to live their best life as independently as possible in their own communities.
The money will be used to increase community health and social care workforce capacity in the evenings and on weekends including increasing the hours of community nurses and end of life care clinical nurse specialists.
The funding will also deliver services such as the assessment of those people living with frailty or other complex needs and agreeing a plan to support their wellbeing and independence at home, particularly during illness or following an injury. This care is tailored to each person's specific needs and could include community nursing, reablement, rehabilitative therapy, mental health support or a combination of these and other services.
In the last year nearly £145 million has been invested through the Welsh Government Regional Integration Fund, on projects delivered by health and social care partners to provide care closer to home.
The Health Minister Eluned Morgan saw first-hand how the award-winning Home First team based in Carmarthenshire is delivering for people in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area.
Eluned Morgan said:
What matters to older people in need of care and support is to be cared for in familiar surroundings with familiar people. They do not want to go to hospital unless this is really necessary.
They are also less likely to lose their confidence and muscle strength, and less likely to pick up infections than in hospital.
We are committed to driving change and transformation, and going further, faster to make sure more people can get the care and support they need at home or in their community. To enable this, learning about best practice needs to be shared across Wales.
The Home First team in Carmarthenshire is a fantastic example of an integrated system which is delivering a radical, person-centred approach to wellbeing, care and support in the community. This is helping to avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital and reducing Pathways of Care Delays across the region.
Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan added:
Good health and wellbeing are the key to our ability to enjoy life to its full. This is particularly important to people in the later years of their life.
Older people have accumulated a lifetime of experience, knowledge and learning, and have significant role to play in our society. We must reshape services, ensuring older people can continue to enjoy life, and ensuring our health and social care system is fit for the future and our increasingly ageing population.
Our longer-term strategic vision is for a national care service in Wales.
Jill Paterson Director of Primary Care, Community and Long-Term Care at Hywel Dda University Health Board said:
We were pleased to be able to tell the Health Minister Eluned Morgan about the great work being done to support our Home First initiatives. It demonstrates partnership working at its best and we are seeing some very positive outcomes thanks to this approach to healthcare. We look forward to continuing to work with Carmarthenshire County Council, Delta Wellbeing, the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust and a range of third sector partners.
Carmarthenshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Social Services Cllr Jane Tremlett said:
Enabling patients to return home earlier from hospital settings and offering social care teams another tool to remotely support clients in the community allows for a more pro-active and preventative approach so where possible we can delay or even stop entry to these services. The Home First team provides a single point of access to ensure that people access the right part of the system, first time. This includes providing clinically safe alternatives to hospital where appropriate, and supporting people to remain within their own homes with the right support.
Delta Wellbeing supports patients to return home from hospital by providing care support for a short period of time until reablement or long-term providers can be found. With staff based at the hospital, they work with the health board and the council's social care teams to ensure patients can be discharged at the earliest opportunity by providing essential support to prevent avoidable hospital admissions, freeing up hospital bed capacity, releasing valuable staff time, maintaining patient flow and avoiding medically fit patients remaining in hospital for longer. This supports the patient to regain their strength and independence and remain at home for as long as possible.