Prevention is better than cure, a phrase you will undoubtedly be familiar with, and when it comes to live-in care, it’s very true indeed.
With nearly 12 million UK citizens aged 65 or over and this number increasing all the time, different challenges are emerging relating to how to care for our ageing population and the knock-on effects these challenges are having on our health services.
Prevention is better than cure
Both from a health perspective and an economic perspective, it’s clear that prevention is better than cure, which is exactly what we look to provide through live-in care. Let’s look at the biggest challenges that we seek to alleviate.
We know that 97% of elderly people don’t want to end up in a traditional nursing home. The reasons are clear: a loss of independence, not wanting to leave their loved one or pets, and simply – they want to remain in the comfort and safety of their home.
One-on-one live-in care at home alleviates all these concerns. The carer is always on hand when the patient is doing any activity that carries a high fall risk – such as climbing the stairs. This prevents the most severe falls that lead to hospital admissions or have even more dire consequences.
With injuries and accidents being the number one reason elderly people must visit accident and emergency, or attend hospital, prevention is clearly better than cure.
Especially when you consider the cost to the NHS:
- Each hip fracture likely to need hospital admission = £5,744 per patient
- Each ambulance call-out costs £230
- Falls account for up to 40% of ambulance call-outs for people aged 65+
- Falls are estimated to cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion per year
- Social care costs are 70% higher in the year following a hospital admission for a fall than in the previous year
Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
UTIs are becoming a more and more common reason why the elderly, particularly women, are ending up in hospital.
According to NHS figures, more than 12,000 patients attended hospital with persistent UTIs or cystitis last year, up from around 4,500 in 2001. Clearly then, this is something that we need to look to prevent to free up hospital resources and to protect our patients.
Following these findings, the Quality Assurance Team here at Promedica24 developed an early detection campaign targeted primarily at clients, their families and carers. We introduced this late last year and continue to develop the initiative.
We recognised that our live-in care workers can play a key role in early identification, escalation and treatment of UTIs at home, as well as prevention of infection. Now armed with the right skills and knowledge, our care workers understand the risks of UTIs, can identify symptoms and share information with GPs, reducing unnecessary hospital admissions.
Providing live-in care services provides us with the platform to do something like this that’s more than just about helping our patients, it helps the wider community, and crucially, supports and protects the health service’s resources.
Minimising hospital visits
As you now know, live-in care is not just a preferred lifestyle choice for our elderly patients, it saves our health services a lot of money and it saves lives.
Whether it be preventing falls, UTIs or other medical problems, live-in carers are always there when they’re needed, both directly as we’ve discussed but also indirectly as we will explain…
Simple things like making sure patients get enough exercise, eat well, and take their medication on time, make a huge difference to overall wellbeing. Less spoken of too is the emotional side – loneliness is a growing problem amongst our ever-growing ageing population. The stress and anguish this can cause leads to physical ailments which live-in care helps to prevent.
Having someone there for an elderly patient and allowing them to stay in their own home increases overall wellbeing therefore limiting hospital admissions.
This mutually beneficial outcome protects our patients and protects vital health service resources.
Decreasing the length of hospital stays
Coupled with minimising admissions is decreasing the length of stays.
As we work to minimise the risk of severe injury or illness, when patients do need hospital care it’s usually for a shorter period than would be the case if the elderly or infirm suffered injury or illness whilst isolated.
When the unfortunate happens, we can act fast and get the aid that’s needed quickly to minimise any lasting damage.
Extended hospital stays can happen when there is a lack of care at home for the patient to return to, costing the NHS approximately £178million per year.
It goes without saying that the more we reduce illness and injury the less new medication will need prescribing for elderly patients. The less medications our elderly need the better. Better for them and better for our health service.
The current situation
Quite rightly there is a lot of concern amongst our community right now Not only are the elderly concerned about the potential health issues, they are also concerned with the prospect of a prolonged period of loneliness. This is just as devasting an impact for many whose lives revolve around loved ones visiting and helping with the day-to-day.
Loneliness and isolation, particularly when enforced, leads to all sorts of problems for vulnerable people and can have severe mental health repercussions.
It’s a difficult situation to try and balance the health risks with the risks loneliness brings but in these uncertain times we are doing all we can by doing what we do best. Live-in care goes on. When a carer moves in with a patient, they become an extension of their family, so during this time they isolate with the patient, just as other families are doing up and down the country.
Being there will help our vulnerable elderly people get what they need physically and mentally to get through this tough time. They can isolate as advised but they won’t be alone.
Again, ensuring our patients’ wellbeing will protect them and the NHS. A critical consideration given what’s happening around the world and the strain health services are under.
If you, a loved one or someone you know would like to find out more about our services, please call us on 01254 375023 or visit Promedica care at home.
-Gary Derbyshire, regional partner (North Yorkshire & Lancashire), Promedica24