The Blog

Innovation in Rehabilitation

According to last week's report by Lord Carter into hospital procurement and management, the issue of bed blocking is currently costing the NHS £900 million a year.

He suggested that one in ten beds are currently being occupied by someone who is medically fit for discharge but who currently remains in hospital either because they have nowhere to go home to, or that their still require intense rehabilitation before being allowed back home.

At Papworth Trust, we believe we have found the answer.

The NHS is at its best when it embraces change and transforms its services to find new ways to improve the health of our country.

Historically, the NHS has always found a way to modernise and cope with the advances in medicine and technology.

Now it must meet the challenge of the consequence; the ageing population.

To do this, it will need innovation on a scale not seen before.

The recommendations set out in Lord Carter's report point to a potential £5 billion saving made though better procurement and staff management.

There is no doubt that better alignment in these areas will help the service but alone, they will not transform the service sufficiently to ensure a long term solution to the bed blocking crisis is found.

The answer to how we deal with the bed blocking crisis has to come from innovation.

Innovation that fundamentally improves the transition from 'patient' to 'person' with a relentless focus on how to ensure each person regains, and then retains, their independence.

Last week Papworth Trust opened the first ever rehabilitation centre that provides patients who no longer need to remain in hospital for medical reasons with the chance to enter a fast track pathway back to their own home.

The 28 purpose-built self-contained flats bridge the gap between a hospital stay and discharge by replicating a resident's home, providing each patient with more than four hours of first class social care and one-and-a-half hours of occupational therapy every single day throughout their average four week stay.

This means that they receive support in the community, away from the hospital environment, helping our patients to manage their rehabilitation more effectively through advice, guidance and quality care as well as therapeutic care that better inform and progress their rehabilitation so they can return home.

During the patient's stay they are also huge benefits that include intensive programmes of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, vocational advice and guidance, fitness and nutrition, cognitive and psychosocial support and can also include speech and language therapy and psychological support.

Our service is the complete package; physical, mental and social care. We help patients to have the confidence to return home and at the same time, limit their risk of re-presenting at Accident and Emergency.

I have long believed that charities can and should be sources of innovative answers to the question of how the National Health Service solves the bed blocking crisis.

Charities have the opportunities to engage with issues on a deeper level - experimenting with solutions in a way that publicly funded institutions such as the NHS are inhibited from doing.

Financially, it is beneficial to the NHS as well. It is estimated to cost the NHS £2,100 per week to keep an individual in a hospital bed. The rehabilitation model that we have created

costs £1,300 per week and includes a far more comprehensive health offer. It is a win for all sides and multi-agency partnership working at its best.

The government should look at our model, recognise its immediate benefits to patients and the NHS and work with charities to roll this out nationally.

It is exactly the innovative approach needed to answer age old questions.