A new way of working

Monday August 24, 2020

Following the Government’s COVID-19 discharge guidance in March, an innovative and collaborative way of working was implemented which has significantly reduced waiting times for patients being discharged, and helped restoration by freeing up beds for patients who need them.

This ‘discharge to assess’ model requires team-working across many organisations, including the community and social care teams, to ensure patients leave hospital when it is safe and appropriate to do so, and continue their care and assessments in the right place.

Jeannie Baumann, director of operations resilience and flow, said: “Last year, the number of days patients spent being ‘medically fit for discharge’ was often more than nine.

“Many complex assessments had to be undertaken in hospital before a discharge could be agreed. The risks of patients deconditioning or becoming ill were high and resulted in extended stays in hospital – it was a vicious circle.

the benefits to patients are at the heart of this significant change

“Now, the number of days has significantly reduced to one or two for many and even the more complex patients only wait three to four days. Our staff have been integral to delivering this change, particularly the discharge teams (pictured above), who have worked incredibly hard and been absolutely amazing.”

Last month, the trust reported an 86% reduction in the average number of people waiting to be discharged on any one day, compared to February 2020, and a 72% year-on-year reduction in the number of patients staying for more than 21 days.

The benefits of this new discharge model have been significant in terms of improving both patient flow and safety in our hospitals and the trust is keen to develop this way of working going forward.

Jeannie added: “It has not only enabled the teams to cope with COVID-19 and restoration demands but, equally importantly, our frail patients are not repeatedly becoming ill or declining in independence, which is so much better for them and their families.

“We are now working with all partners to research, review, and refine the process, making sure that the benefits to patients are at the heart of this significant change.”

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