The King’s Fund has said multidisciplinary teams that bring together social workers and health professionals are needed so that more people can receive care outside of hospital.
A report by the health services think-tank said that community services needed radical changes to achieve the government’s ambition of delivering more care out of hospitals and closer to people’s home. Progress on reducing lengths of stay in hospital were plateauing, it warned, so significant changes were necessary.
It recommended the creation of simpler community services based around multidisciplinary teams that bring social workers, GPs, nurses and therapists together to co-ordinate patient care.
Simpler services, it said, would reduce the confusion among patients and professionals about the fragmented community services that currently exist.
The report said these teams should have generic mental health skills to help them cope with the rising number of dementia patients and the high level of anxiety among people with long-term health conditions.
Ideally, services should be co-located and could benefit from sharing a single budget.
The proposals are based on the suggestions of a group of community trusts brought together by the King’s Fund.
Nigel Edwards, senior fellow at the King’s Fund, said: “There is an emerging consensus about the value of community services. Although some progress has been made, radical change is needed to realise the ambition of moving more care out of hospital and closer to people’s homes.
“With the health system under increasing pressure, especially the hospital sector, improving the effectiveness of community services is essential – it is time to bring community services from the margins to the mainstream.”