Less than half of councils have approved facility for rapid discharge of patients into care homes

Fewer than half of local authorities in England have an approved designated facility for care home residents in hospital to be discharged into, figures show.

Out of 151 local authorities, 74 have a setting that has been inspected and approved by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), its data shows.

In mid-October, local authorities were asked to urgently identify “designated facilities” to manage any rapid discharge of hospital patients into care homes during the second wave of coronavirus.

These must be inspected and approved by the CQC to ensure they meet the regulator’s infection control standards.

Writing to councils, the Department of Health and Social Care said it hoped that every local authority would have access to at least one CQC-designated site by the end of October.

Out of 355 proposed settings, 83 settings with 1,023 beds had been approved as of November 18, the care regulator said.

A further 27 alternative settings are in place, where local authorities are able to use an NHS setting as a designated facility, for example a community hospital.

The CQC said some councils were sharing a designated setting that is located outside its area.

Others have opted not to take part in the scheme, it said.

Some 42 local authorities had not proposed a facility to be inspected as of November 18.

The regulator said reasons for settings not being approved include the location being unsuitable or not being ready, and staffing issues.

It said it is working with the DHSC and others to address capacity issues, “particularly in areas where there is a shortage or lack of designated settings”.

Kate Terroni (pictured), CQC chief inspector of adult social care, said: “It is our role to ensure that proposed locations for the designated scheme, which is an initiative led by DHSC, are safe for people with a confirmed Covid-19 test result to be discharged into.

“Between October and the end of November we will have completed well over 500 infection prevention and control inspections (545 will be complete), including approved designated locations, and measured against ‘eight ticks’ which are published on our website.”

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils, providers and the CQC are working incredibly hard on the issue of this designated accommodation in relation to Covid-19 and the vast majority of councils have approved premises, have submitted premises to CQC for approval or are using NHS community beds which do not need CQC approval.

“These decisions should not be rushed and the Department of Health and Social Care must listen to all concerns that councils and their partners raise to ensure the policy developed is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution, and reflects each area’s individual circumstances.

“We are clear that councils must have the flexibility to adapt to the needs of their residents, including ensuring an individual’s wishes on discharge are enabled and that the scheme builds on local arrangements.”

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