A study conducted by the Nuffield Trust has revealed that local authority funded care home residents have fewer hospital admissions than those receiving intensive social care support in their own homes. They say that the results support the belief that cuts to health care budgets will increase pressure on the NHS as they are likely to lead to an increase in hospital admissions.
The causes behind these patterns were not covered in the study but the authors stated that a variety of factors could provide an explanation for the distinction between care homes and home care. These include the fact that care homes provide preventative measures such as reducing the risks of falls and more intensive GP supervision. Some homes provide nursing support which can be an effective substitute for hospital care.
However, it could also demonstrate that there are problems with access to hospital care within care homes. This can be shown by the low rate of outpatient attendances for care home residents compared to those who do not use social care at all.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Martin Bardsley, Nuffield Trust Head of Research said “The significance of these observations is twofold. Firstly that reduction in social care budgets and access to care homes may put pressure on hospitals. Secondly, that we ought to be looking to use these data to understand something more about what constitutes good quality social care, and see if we can use information about the management of health problems, to help spot the difference between good and bad social care.”
Dr Jennifer Dixon, Director of the Nuffield Trust commented that “Some of the main policy challenges right now, whether in respect of long term care funding, spreading the use of personal budgets or integration, are all critically dependent on understanding better the trade-offs and interactions between social care and NHS usage. Yet surprisingly, studies of this type are far and few between….Further research is needed to understand the causes behind these phenomena but the results emphasise once again that changes in social care can have knock on effects in the NHS.”