Reform bill aims to care for elderly patients at home

Person holds elderly woman's hand The proportion of Scots who are aged 75 and over will rise by 80% by 2035

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A Holyrood bill has been published which aims to have more elderly patients cared for at home instead of being "stuck in hospital".

The new legislation would see NHS and local authority budgets integrated to pay for improved care in the community.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said services needed to adapt to cater for people living longer.

The proportion of people in Scotland who are aged 75 and over will rise by 80% by 2035.

The 2011 census showed that for the first time there were more people in Scotland aged over 65 than there were under the age of 15.

Mr Neil, who was speaking after the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Bill was published, said it was important that older people were not "stuck in hospital longer than they need to be".

He added: "People in Scotland are living longer, healthier lives - which is good news. But it also means that services need to adapt in order to meet the challenges of a rapidly ageing population."

He added: "The publication of this bill is a major step forward in public service reform, and integrating NHS and local authority budgets will help to reduce these delays."

The minister said that the joined up approach was already working well in some areas of the country.

He highlighted four projects, including;

  • North Lanarkshire Partnership's "Hospital at Home" initiative has enabled 80% of older patients to stay in their home rather than being admitted to hospital.
  • In Highland adult health and social care services are managed through a single budget and a single management system following partnership working between the local council and health service.
  • Stirling Council and NHS Forth Valley has a joint initiative to help people live independently in their own homes. This has resulted in a 30% reduction in the number of older people in care homes since 2009.
  • And a discharge hub has been established in Hairmyres Hospital to reduce the delays experienced by people who required additional services before they can be discharged home.

Scottish Labour's health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, said the bill lacked the "cohesiveness and direction" needed to create a health and social care system that was "seamless, simple and provides the best quality care".

She added: "That's why we want to see a national care service with truly integrated budgets, straightforward funding and a strengthened role for local authorities. National minimum standards are also important to address the postcode lottery of care experienced by too many Scots.

"I hope sensible debate through the bill process will improve the proposals."

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