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UH Bristol: Supporting older patients with alternative funding

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol) has entered a partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service delivering an alternative way to fund support for older patients once they have been discharged from hospital. 

In an attempt to address the growing issue of rising readmissions at hospitals and delayed discharge, highlighted by the recent problems across the country within A&E departments, UH Bristol  is providing new volunteer services to support vulnerable older people in Bristol Royal Infirmary and South Bristol Community hospitals. 

The trust, by realising part of the gift money created by Royal Voluntary Service shops and cafes in the hospitals, is able to fund the range of ‘sustainable’ services. These include the charity’s Home from Hospital service and the Good Neighbours befriending service throughout the city – giving older people regular support and improving their health and wellbeing. 

David McCullough, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service, said: “We believe that no older person should go home alone from hospital without the support they need in place. With local authority and hospital trusts facing budget cuts, volunteer schemes provide a cost-effective solution, helping trusts reach targets and save money, whilst still placing patient care at the core.” 

The Royal Voluntary Service’s Home from Hospital volunteers support older people after a stay in hospital, making sure their house is safe and warm, helping with meals, transport to follow up GP appointments and a friendly face to raise their spirits. 

The scheme has already been successfully used in Leicestershire where only 7.5% of users of the Royal Voluntary Service scheme were readmitted as an emergency within 60 days, compared with national rates of 15% within 28 days. 

Dr Rachel Bradley, consultant in care of the elderly at UH Bristol, added: “We are proud to be partnering with the Royal Voluntary Service and have worked with them to carefully design these services. 

“Utilising the profits generated by the hospitals’ retail facilities is a simple and inexpensive way of ensuring the most vulnerable people are receiving the services they need to get better sooner.” 

There will be an extended interview with Dr Bradley about the partnership in the Jan/Feb edition of NHE, discussing the national implications this type of partnership could have. 

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