County council to explore merits of scheme which could see people paid to look after NHS patients in their own homes

Cambridgeshire County Council is set to mull the plans.

Cambridgeshire County Council is set to mull the plans. - Credit: Archant

A plan to pay families to provide accommodation for NHS patients who have been discharged from hospital is being considered by the local authority - despite widespread criticism of the scheme.

A plan to pay families to provide accommodation for NHS patients who have been discharged from hospital is being considered by the local authority.

Cambridgeshire County Council has been approached by CareRooms chief executive, Paul Gaudin, and confirmed it is now considering a trial of the “innovative” scheme, which could include respite care and convalescence.

Mr Gaudin has explained that with the disappearance of convalescent facilities, CareRooms wants to enable patients who are fit and have been medically discharged from hospital to recover in a safe environment, in a private home and in their community.

“This assists their recovery, improves outcomes and aims to reduce hospital re-admissions and therefore reduce costs for our precious health service,” he explained.

“Where possible, guests are matched with hosts by our area managers who provide local support and are familiar with the area, the hosts and the health and social care teams. More than 600 potential hosts have already registered with CareRooms and many of these are former health sector workers who recognise the health system’s need.”

But critics of the scheme argue that as most of the patients will be elderly people who are blocking medical beds in hospitals while they wait for care packages to be put in place, they will inevitably need some level of professional care.

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“If a hospital patient needs convalescence or help to enable them to cope when they come home, their recovery will be far quicker and less stressful, if they are in their own home with support from trained carers,” said Jane Howell, from the Keep Our NHS Public campaign group.

“Also it would be very isolating to be moved from a busy hospital ward to a single room in a stranger’s house.”

The county council says it is committed to delivering a broad range of services and confirmed it has held “initial discussions” with Mr Gaudin.

A spokesman for the authority said: “We have had initial discussions with Mr Gaudin about his ideas of delivering home-based services, as an alternative to traditional short-term institutional settings, such as care homes or hospitals.

“It is early days, and the council is interested in exploring a range of approaches in terms of the most effective way to promote independent living in the community. The proposed model at this stage does interest the council, as it has a number of potential uses to support people with long-term conditions.

“A key feature of CareRooms is maximising the use of technology to monitor the health and wellbeing of individuals. The model is at an early stage of development, and the council has been keen to support its further development through providing some specialist staff as an advisory group to Mr Gaudin and his colleagues.

“We will be inviting NHS colleagues along to this group to see if they are interested in participating in an advisory capacity.”

Mrs Howell also raised concerns about the regulation of the scheme.

“How will people be assessed and guaranteed as being suitable and trustworthy for this role?” she said.

The Hunts Post raised these concerns with CareRooms and in a statement, Mr Gaudin said: “All hosts are fully vetted, interviewed, DBS checked and undergo extensive training. CareRooms will carefully select and regulate third party suppliers to provide a 24/7/365 telecare and emergency triage facilities and online video GP. Any change to a guest’s medical condition is detected as early as possible, such as a urinary tract infection, and this enables us to deliver early intervention from the guest’s medical team to prevent unnecessary readmission to hospital.”