Hold-ups with paperwork on the part of the NHS and local authorities are stopping elderly people being discharged quickly from hospitals into care homes.
That’s the message from the boss of a home in Colwyn Bay who says that delays in the preparation of formal care assessments of patients can often leave them blocking vital hospital beds.
Clive Nadin, registered manager and owner of the Abbey Dale House home and a member of influential representative body Care Forum Wales which champions the interests of over 450 care organisations across the country, said: “Nursing beds in the Conwy county area are in very short supply due to recent home closures. In fact, we’ve lost nearly a third of our nursing beds in just the past year.
“That means it’s very difficult to find beds and those available are being filled quickly.
“The problem is that it can take quite a long time to transfer people out of hospital and into homes likes ours because of hold-ups with the paperwork – the assessments of patients’ care requirements that are done by the NHS and the health board – and that means people are being left for days longer than necessary on hospital wards.
“It’s becoming a major headache for us and, I know, for other people in the care sector right across Wales.
“I recently had a case where I went into a local hospital to do my side of the assessment of a patient on a Friday but the person wasn’t eventually transferred until the following Tuesday. In fact, the discharge should have taken place a day earlier than it did.”
Mr Nadin said another problem facing the care sector at the moment was the wave of flu cases sweeping the country.
He explained: “We have 28 residents aged up to 102 but luckily sickness levels amongst them aren’t too bad at the moment. However, seven or eight of our 35 staff have had the flu.
“That’s a problem for us as it means we’ve had to arrange cover by using agency staff, and the agencies themselves are struggling as their staff have also been hit by the flu.
“I understand our local hospitals like Glan Clwyd and the community hospitals in Colwyn bay and Llandudno are also struggling.
“We face something like this at about this time every year but this year things have been particularly bad as there have been a couple of strains of flu going around – the Australian one which can be pretty bad and Japanese. We’ve also potentially got a third strain, French, coming so we’ll have to see what happens.”
Mr Nadin said that staff morale was becoming a factor at care homes across Wales.
He said: “We’re under increasing pressure in the care sector as a whole because finances are very tight.
“The amount of money we get from the Welsh Government via local authorities and the health board to run the homes means we are not able to pay our staff as much as the NHS.
“Although they do an extremely hard job we can only pay them £7.50 an hour, which is £1 an hour less than they’d get working in the health service. It’s a dual standard, really.
“I’m about to lose one of my staff to the NHS simply because they are paying more.
“Staff morale at my home and throughout the sector is also being hit by the fact there are more opportunities in the NHS than a smaller care home.”