Age Action’s Care & Repair service helps older people to maintain their homes. Volunteers do small DIY jobs for older people free of charge and a list of local tradesmen is available to give quotations for larger jobs.
In Cork, Age Action is currently piloting a new element to the Care & Repair service – the Hospital Discharge Service.
National Development Manager John O’Mahony says “Older people who have accidents or illnesses that result in hospital stays often face reduced mobility levels when they return home. They may need adaptations in their homes to accommodate for this.”
“Sometimes, even when the patient is medically fit to leave hospital, they cannot be discharged because the home is unsafe. The patient can therefore stay in hospital longer than is necessary. The aim of the Hospital Discharge Service to provide an increased package of support for people so that they can return home.”
The purpose of the initial pilot project was to develop and test procedures so that the service can be rolled out in full in locations around the country in 2019/2020. An outline plan for the service was produced. A series of consultation meetings took place with older people, volunteers and staff from three hospitals to gather their views on what the service should provide for patients and how it should function.
A team of volunteers was recruited from within the current Care & Repair volunteer team. Procedures were agreed, plans were put in place and a number of patient requests were completed to test the systems we had designed.
Some of the work completed included de-cluttering an apartment for a gentleman who was going to need a walking frame for the first time after he returned from hospital, several trips to the hospital stores to collect commodes, shower stools etc. for patients, moving beds downstairs and replacing toilet seats. In one case, all of a patient's belongings were moved from one apartment to another in the same building so that he had easier access to the elevator.
Learning from the pilot project in Cork will enable the Hospital Discharge Service to be rolled out in full in other locations. Initially Age Action hopes to roll out the service in Dublin, Cork and Galway.
“There is huge potential for this service to make a real difference to older people at a very difficult time in their lives” said Mr. O’Mahony. It can help to bring them back into their communities and enable them to continue living at home following an accident or illness. In addition, there would be a huge cost saving to the state as people will not stay in hospital for longer than is necessary."