News

30.09.16

Lack of community support leading carers to ‘reluctantly to turn to A&E’

Hospital emergency services are facing increased pressure as carers are increasingly turning to A&E for treatment for their loved ones because they cannot access adequate community support, according to a new report.

A survey by Carers UK found that 9% of carers said they had used an A&E or 999 service when a loved one was ill because they didn’t know where else to turn for advice, and 18% had done so because they couldn’t get a district nurse or GP out of hours.

Of those whose friend or family member was admitted to hospital, 32% said they thought this could have been prevented if they’d had more support as a carer. This rose to 40% among ‘sandwich’ carers with responsibility for children as well as an older relative.

Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “The majority of care provided in England is not by doctors, nurses or care workers, but by family and friends. These carers have told us that they aren’t able access the support they need, when they need it, from community health and care services, so they are reluctantly having to turn to A&E.”

Cuts to social care have been linked to rising levels of demand and longer waiting times in hospital A&Es.

A report from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), also published this week, found that a lack of social care resources and co-ordination with the health service is contributing to high levels of delayed discharge for elderly patients and lack of follow-up care when they left hospital.

In the Carers UK survey, 26% of respondents were not consulted when their friend or relative was discharged from hospital and 33% were only consulted at the last minute.

Among those who were not consulted, 79% said they felt their loved one was discharged too early, whereas 65% of those who were consulted said the discharge had happened at the right time.

Furthermore, 27% said their loved one’s admission to hospital was due to being discharged too soon on a previous occasion.

Carers UK said the government should introduce a ‘Carer Friendly Duty’ for the NHS. This should include ‘stress testing’ the new sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) from a carer perspective.

In addition, it said CCGs should systematically develop carer friendly primary services, and NHS trusts should use carer passport schemes to identify and support carers while they are in hospital.

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Comments

Jo   03/10/2016 at 12:27

I would just like to comment on the story about 'Lack of community support leading carers 'reluctantly to turn to A&E'. I think most recommendations coming out of studies like this by Carers' UK are too 'broad brush' to be effective. In my experience as sole carer for a close family member with dementia, what would have helped me and all concerned would have been a way for a carer (paid or unpaid) to send details of the specific thing that they know would be needed to improve a particular situation, so that patient and carer knowledge and ideas could be directly input, co-ordinated, validated and shared a.s.a.p. Sometimes correction or improvement needs to happen quickly!

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