The Future of Hospitals Conference
Although grey, it wasn’t raining in Manchester. The junior doctors’ strike had been called off and the AJ Bell stadium was swelled by the good attendance that this allowed. Things were looking up and Prederi was sharing our experience, wondering if it could be the “saviour of the NHS”.
Salford University’s conference “The Future of Hospitals” brought together clinicians and managers from primary and secondary care, as well as representatives from social care and the third sector. It was an opportunity to share ideas and showcase innovation. There were examples shared within the hospital settings: ways of improving efficiency, quality and patient experience. There were presentations focused on keeping people out of hospital. But were these wonderful examples of “front door” and in-hospital efficiencies enough?
Stewart Johns, Prederi’s managing director, brought something new to the conference. He suggested that reablement and social care could be “the saviour of the NHS”. The answer, he argued, is not at the front door of the hospital. It is at the back door. With today’s challenges – financial pressure, an ageing population, increasing population and variation in quality of health care provision, we cannot just look to conventional methods of improvement. Technology can help, but we need major transformational change in the way we deliver care. And here we need reablement.
Prederi’s experience working with ECL (formerly Essex Cares) has shown how reablement can benefit the whole health and social care system. Reablement is not always precisely defined. Suffice to say, it is an approach within home care services that aims to help people do things for themselves rather than have them done for them. Reablement services are time-limited, typically six weeks, and personalised, goal-oriented and outcome-focused. Amongst those who know it and have witnessed it, there is a general consensus that reablement is effective and value for money.
The problem is that this type of service sits on the boundary between health and social care and the costs can fall in one organisation while the many benefits fall in another. This means that there needs to be new ways of health and social care working together, with the right sort of contracts and with solutions to information governance issues. We think mapping this process from end to end across the social and healthcare sectors can help unpick these problems.
As a public health doctor, I was delighted to see the conference embracing a social model of health and the prevention agenda. We now have a tangible opportunity to make the integration of health and social care a reality. Reablement could truly be “the saviour of the NHS”. And was that the sun peeping through the clouds?