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Right? Wrong!

21st July 2014

Care closer to home

From minor to major, healthcare concerns are part of our daily lives. From the moment we realise something’s up, we’re anxious and needful of the expertise and support of others – particularly specialists whose knowledge ensures that we are treated when necessary by the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

Traditionally, those specialists operate in a variety of set locations. You may think of the hospital consultant in a ward, the district nurse in your home, the GP in a local surgery (and so on) – these things have always been so, and will never change.

Right? Wrong.

Care closer to home is an ethos that is very much about placing the patient at the heart of the treatment nexus so that their anxiety is kept to a minimum and the comfort of home ensures a speedier recovery. There are many advantages to a shift of emphasis from the hospital setting to home - carers and wider social networks are more able to be involved in the patient’s care pathway; the risks inherent in acute care settings – hospital acquired infection and so on – are lessened; the primary care commissioning team can more effectively and efficiently ensure that care services are integrated across the sectors; social care – and other forms of practical assistance – can be delivered seamlessly; and the care package is designed holistically, bringing together the specialists who can deliver the myriad needs of the patient. What’s more, it is also cheaper, and kinder.

The digital age has completely transformed our workplaces, our homes and our healthcare. We get reminder texts on our mobiles to ensure we don’t miss appointments, order repeat prescriptions online, look at diagnostics on screen, Google for information when we want to make informed choices as patients. We’ve got the lot. Right? Nope, still wrong.

The next phase of telehealth and telecare is going to completely transform the way healthcare is delivered and understood, and it is going to free up all those location-specific services (see above) from many of the constraints that have kept them where they are.  It is also going to enable co-ordination of health and social care as never before, and deliver truly integrated care. And as demographics change – we have smaller families, we live longer, we beat more diseases – an increasingly frail, elderly section of society will benefit hugely from technological advances that will enable far greater choice than ever before.

Investment in new technologies will give people more choices about where they want to be, so that they can be safe, secure, comfortable and very well looked after – enjoying privacy and dignity that is much more difficult to achieve away from home.

Peter Wearmouth

Peter Wearmouth

Director, Capita


Better healthcare estates are not affordable
Healthcare costs are rising and we have to tighten our belts and live with what we’ve got, for now. Until times get better. Investment isn’t possible – there’s not enough cash to pay for better healthcare estates. And the rising cost of backlog maintenance just doesn’t bear thinking about. Right? Wrong again.

We may have seen the end of massive public sector investment programmes in healthcare estates, but we simply haven’t optimised what we’ve got. Transforming our existing assets – optimising space utilisation, disposing of surplus land and buildings, attracting inward investment to create revenue-earning schemes – can deliver the improvements we need to ensure we have world-class healthcare estates in future years. These are testing times, no doubt about it, and we all need to rise to the challenges ahead. As we continue to tighten the purse strings, and to need more for less, we have to be smarter, work harder, and tirelessly attack the barriers to change.

Right? Right.

Peter Wearmouth is a director in Capita’s health property team

This article first appeared in Building magazine.

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