Councillors back £1.9m plan to free up psychiatric beds

A £1.9 million plan to reduce bed-blocking by patients who are ready to be discharged from psychiatric beds has received backing from councillors.

The five-year plan would entail providing specialist support either at home or in self-contained accommodation for people who are medically fit to leave mental health hospitals.

A pilot scheme of a model known as “discharge to assess” was tested for a year by Brighton and Hove City Council and the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

They found that providing a support service rather than high-cost residential social care placements could save the public purse up to £1 million a year.

The council is expected to contribute £470,000 towards the £1.9 million cost over the five years – or just over £90,000 a year.

The council’s commissioning and performance manager for mental health and special projects Emily Ashmore spoke about the plan yesterday (Tuesday 7 September).

She asked the council’s Adult Social Care and Public Health Sub-committee to extend the pilot scheme until next March which members approved.

This was intended to give the council and CCG time to find a provider for the scheme over five years, once the CCG had confirmed its share of the funding.

She said: “The pilot has provided bed occupancy gains for the hospital and has achieved community care budget savings.

“Most importantly of all has received positive feedback from people moving through the service and the workers who support them.”

Ms Ashmore told councillors that the CCG was currently retendering some mental health services, requiring 100 units of accommodation, and this was expected to attract organisations interested in the “discharge to assess” scheme.

The scheme would offer a short-term support service, with a move on target of six weeks, and with 10 hours of face-to-face support a week.

Six people at a time would be given support at home while a further eight people, without a home of their own, would be housed while given support.

Those housed under the scheme would be supported to move on into suitable safe housing and to link into longer-term forms of community-based support suitable to meet their needs.

Conservative councillor Mary Mears said that the report to the sub-committee lacked detail and she abstained from voting on it.

She said: “It’s really interesting. I think it’s a worthwhile thing to do and it’s really important (but) there is not enough context in the report. There could have been a lot more. I think it’s a shame.”

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