A new team of medics has been introduced in a bid to combat bed blocking.
The Clifton Outreach Support Team (COST) – the first of its kind on the Fylde coast – will support patients for up to two weeks after they have gone home and before a care agency has become available.
Hannah Goddard, who is co-ordinating the team, initially introduced as a pilot in December, said: “This is a really positive scheme.
“We are learning and improving all the time to bridge the gap between hospital and home and we are thinking outside the box.
“It’s really important to get a medically fit patient home as they longer they stay in hospital, the more they can lose confidence and become institutionalised. Our service has become very popular – one patient even offered to pay for us to continue.”
Patients who would not be able to look after themselves at home cannot be discharged from hospital until plans are in place to help them.
But Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it can ‘sometimes take up to four weeks for a care agency’ to become available – which means people are left languishing on wards unable to be discharged.
That costs money and causes delays for other patients – and has been blamed on cuts to social care funding.
The new team consists of nursing staff, therapists, and health care assistants and helps patients with their daily activities, including washing and preparing food, giving medicine, and making sure they are using medical devices correctly.
The service will look after eight to 10 patients in their own homes, the trust said, and also works with other services such as the Rapid Response Team, A&E at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and the Early Supported Discharge Team.
Head of service at Clifton Hospital, in St Annes, said: “The service has been well received by patients and their families and has provided opportunity for staff development. During the pilot, it has proved to be cost effective and we are now in the process of evaluating the service and drafting a business case”.
Last month, The Gazette revealed how 95 per cent of beds at the Vic were taken between December 1 and January 1, sparking concern from MP Gordon Marsden.