‘Home first’ care warning for Edinburgh as austerity consultation launches

Caregiving Nurse putting a bandage on a senior man's arm in his home.
Caregiving Nurse putting a bandage on a senior man's arm in his home.
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Health bosses are appealing for public feedback ahead of an overhaul of how services are delivered – including moving to a “home first” approach.

The Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (IJB), which delivers health and social care services across the Capital, has set out a draft for a new three-year vision. The board has launched a public consultation ahead of publishing its final strategic plan.

Labour's Ricky Henderson. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Labour's Ricky Henderson. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

The plan includes a person-focused, patient first and “home first” approach to care – which would mean more services being delivered in the community. Health chiefs hope to use the latest technology to support care and create a culture of improvement by using data more effectively.

But in December 2018, board members were warned that financial pressures could mean the final strategy will not be approved. Last month, the IJB refused to set a balanced budget after being left with a £12.6m deficit.

Cllr Ricky Henderson, chairman of the Edinburgh IJB, said: “At its heart, the strategic plan sets out our desire to support people to be well at home, and in their community, for as long as possible. Providing first class acute hospital care only when medical intervention is needed, and the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

“Age, disability or health conditions should not stop people living a safe and good life and so our approach aims to work with individuals and their carers to see what matters most to them and support them to reach their goals. Everyone also deserves to live as comfortably and independently as they can, and by working towards a ‘home first’ method, we hope to empower people and communities to make these choices where they can.

“To do this, we need input from everyone who is touched by health and social care services in Edinburgh and we need to work collaboratively with our partners to optimise available resources. I urge people to take part in the consultation and have their say.”

Under a home first approach, staff would work closely with colleagues in the community and in social care to plan for a patient to return home from the first day they arrive. Patients would be seen at home within hours and receive an assessment by a home first team, made up of community nurses, therapists and social care professionals.

Every patient would have a personal care plan and this may include therapy, goals, support for carers, any equipment they may need and self-help advice. It helps patients to get home quicker and helps them to lead independent lives, with the support they need.

Conservative Cllr Susan Webber, who sits on the IJB, said: “I have very little confidence in the actual operational delivery of the strategic plan.

“Despite verbal assurances from the chief officer and her team, I am yet to see direct evidence that the plans are being put in place, and embedded into the partner organisations objectives. This is of grave concern to me.”

The draft strategic plan also suggests creating a motivated, skilled and balanced workforce – along with an enhanced partnership with the voluntary and independent sectors, including charities. But health bosses are drawing up a separate workforce strategy after it was revealed that only nine per cent of workers are under the age of 30.

Residents have until Monday, June 10 to take part in the online survey at consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk