Reading Borough Council Partnership approach; helping residents leave hospital quickly and safely during second wave of pandemic

Signage at Holiday Inn Reading South

Mid December 2020 with COVID infection rates increasing, Reading Borough Council took the decision to support the Berkshire West Health & Social Care system and again set up a Reading Adult Social Care Hospital Discharge Hotel at Holiday Inn Reading South, to facilitate prompt, safe discharges from hospital and free up as many NHS beds as possible to help ease the pressure on the healthcare system.

With a lead time of 10 days to set up the Hospital Discharge Hotel and anticipating increasing numbers needing discharge for reablement or convalescence, it was essential we took action.

Care facilities were set up over the Christmas period including sourcing a Care Provider, locating and installing equipment and agreeing admission and discharge processes. Working closely with the hotel manager 20 of the South Reading hotel rooms were converted into short-term facilities.

The temporary hospital discharge service offers an extra resource to support people with care needs who cannot immediately return home after a hospital stay. For example, if a person needs extra support with personal care but their care package cannot be started immediately, or if there are practical issues with their home that need to be resolved – anything which would hold the person in hospital whilst they are fit to leave.

The Hospital Discharge Hotel is not specifically for COVID-19 patients and no known COVID cases will be admitted. If a patient is COVID positive they will need to have completed a 14 day isolation, or have had a negative test before they can be admitted. Safety measures are in place at the hotel and care staff are resourced with appropriate personal protective equipment.

People are referred by the hospital or by other NHS colleagues into the service at the hotel and care agency Care 1st Homecare help deliver the service, the Council’s Adult Social Care Team is on-site seven days a week, and newly discharged hospital patients supported by carers 24/7.

So far 64 bed days across have been freed up at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and local community hospitals, with nine people currently supported at the hotel. People are discharged home sometimes as quickly as after one night. Four of the ten people that have been supported at the Holiday Inn, Reading South so far have already been able to return home.

The hotel is the second new discharge service commissioned by the Council in response to the Covid-19 crisis. The Council also partnered with River View Care Centre in West Reading for people who are well enough to leave hospital but have residential or nursing needs.

Cllr Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care, said: “During the first wave of COVID we had to proactively seek new ways with partners to achieve additional care resource, our fast response to the Covid-19 crisis was incredibly successful and made a big difference in easing the burden on the NHS. April through to June we created care facilities at the Holiday Inn Reading South and freed up 14 beds at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and local community hospitals.”

“It was clear in December as local infection rates increased we needed to set up the Hospital Discharge Hotel at Holiday Inn South again.”

“I would like to say a huge thank you again to the Holiday Inn Reading South and Care 1st Home Care Agency. I am especially proud and grateful to the Council staff who worked tirelessly over Christmas to set up this care option again and who continue to work hard on the frontline ensuring our most vulnerable residents get the care they need to recover.”

Gagan Kumar, General Manager at the Holiday Inn Reading South M4 J11, said: “We are pleased to be partnering with Reading Borough Council and supporting the NHS and our local community with this vital service once again.  Having played a similar role from April until June to alleviate the pressure on beds, we have been well placed to support implementation quickly and it’s been a pleasure to welcome our new guests and their care teams to the hotel.”

Nicky Lloyd, Acting Chief Executive of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a fantastic example of how our local community works in partnership to keep patients supported and safe, beyond their care given directly by the hospital.”

“The coronavirus outbreak has put huge demands on all our medical services over the last few months, and initiatives like this one are key to ensuring the smooth running of hospital services, freeing up beds for emergency patients and helping ease the pressure on our teams.”