Quality of life for older people in residential care homes is improved by bringing in community nursing and physiotherapy teams, says a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Savings made through reduced hospital admissions and delayed transfer to nursing homes offset any potential costs of the scheme.
A two-year pilot scheme was set up in a group of local authority residential homes caring for 131 long-term residents as a joint initiative between Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) council and the local primary care trust.
The dedicated team (known as "the in-reach team") was able to detect and deal with undiagnosed illnesses, producing long-term benefits for residents' health and quality of life.
This was especially important in cases where, due to conditions such as dementia, residents found it difficult to communicate their symptoms to staff.
Professor Ala Szczepura of Warwick University reported that, "During the two-year study, between 80 and nearly 200 potential hospital admissions were averted, and 20 early discharges made possible.
"Beyond the clear benefits cited by residents and staff, we estimate that investment in such a service could produce savings of up to £250,000 per annum to the primary care trust and local authority."
"I would definitely agree that with this input from community nurses and other allied health professional groups care of care home patients can be improved and maintained within a satisfactory standard. early identification of possible problems can avoid more complex intervention in the future" – V Henry, London