Following the announcement of a new hospital discharge operating model across the NHS and social care, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) has welcomed the news and is encouraging its members to follow the new guidance.

The new ‘discharge to assess’ model focuses on discharging patients from hospital as soon as it is clinically safe to do so, which prioritises providing ongoing care outside of acute settings for the patient as close to their home as possible.

To support this new hospital discharge operating model, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) unveiled a new £588 million fund to cover adult social care or the immediate costs of care in their own home.

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This funding enables up to six weeks of additional support for patients so that they can receive ongoing help with their recovery and rehabilitation after they leave hospital. This could include support in their home or access to services such as physiotherapy.

Now, the new guidance about this discharge operating model looks to mainstream this model nationwide, while also prescribing a COVID-secure pathway for how patients should be discharged from hospital to care homes.

Commenting on the new guidance, CSP Policy Lead Rachel Newton said: “This is relevant to our community rehabilitation agenda and is important information for members to know – what will happen with patients in hospital and on discharge, and potential additional funding for the first six weeks.”

With winter approaching and the significant body of evidence of the harm caused to patients when they remain in hospital unnecessarily, the roll out of the discharge to assess model is welcome and timely, added CSP Professional Adviser Claire Fordham.

She said: “I know of the enormous benefit this approach has to expediting discharge; supporting patients to recover well in the most appropriate setting and in driving a “home first” culture across acute and community services.”

However, Claire noted that the ultimate success of the new ‘discharge to assess’ operating model depends on skilled staff who are enabled and supported to work in new ways.

“This must include putting in place robust information-sharing arrangements across acute and community settings; providing staff with adequate access to IT systems and developing clear governance processes,” she continued.

“Equally, sufficient capacity in the community to provide patients with the right level and intensity of rehabilitation and re-enablement support at home or other community setting is crucial.

“This is along with timely access to longer term social care and ongoing rehabilitation for those who need it following discharge from the pathway.”

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