‘Hospitals at Home’ could be coming to the Scottish Borders

Tuesday September 20th 2022


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

The launch of a ‘Hospitals at Home’ service for older people in the Scottish Borders could move a step closer to reality this week.

In recent years, Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) have been considering new ways to respond to the acute care needs of older people with frailty issues and other long-term conditions.

Urgent care is needed for such patients but hospitals bring risks as well as benefits for older patients and community-based alternatives are increasingly being explored.

This has resulted in a shift towards hospital-level care within a person’s home environment.

This service is generally referred to as ‘Hospital at Home’ and is a short-term intervention providing acute care of a level comparable with what is provided in a conventional hospital.

Scottish Borders is one of the few remaining HSCP without a Hospital at Home service. Dumfries and Galloway, Highland and Angus and Shetland are the only other areas in the country yet to introduce it.

But when members of the council’s Health & Social Care Integration Joint Board meet this week they will be asked to indicate whether they want to embark on a business case for the establishment of such a service.

It is anticipated it would take between two to five years to set the service up with the aim of establishing an initial pilot project in the Eildon area, as it has the Borders highest population density.

A report, to be presented to the joint board on Wednesday, September 21, by Cathy Wilson, general manager of Primary and Community Services, says: “Where Hospital at Home has been established, patients are treated as though they were in the ‘real’ hospital, having hospital-level priority for inpatient investigations and using secondary care protocols and treatments.

“At the end of their submission, a discharge letter is generated in the same manner as in a physical hospital.

“Developing a full Hospital at Home service would likely take a long time, between two and five years, but every journey must start with the first step. The board is invited to consider whether they are ready to take those first steps towards developing such a service.”

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