Quality statement 6: Access to healthcare services

Quality statement

Older people in care homes have access to the full range of healthcare services when they need them.

Rationale

Older people in care homes typically have greater and more complex health needs than those living in the community, and these needs can affect their wellbeing if they are not addressed. Many care home residents experience problems accessing NHS primary and secondary healthcare services, including GPs. It is important that care homes have good links with GPs and referral arrangements, so that services can be accessed easily and without delay when they are needed. This is essential to prevent unmet healthcare needs from having a negative impact on mental wellbeing.

Quality measures

Structure

Evidence of referral arrangements to ensure that older people in care homes are given access to the full range of healthcare services when they need them.

Data source: Local data collection.

Outcome

Feedback from older people in care homes and from their family, friends and/or carers that they are satisfied with the care they have received.

What the quality statement means for organisations providing care, social care, health and public health practitioners, local authorities and other commissioning services

Organisations providing care ensure that they work in partnership with healthcare organisations to implement effective arrangements for access to primary, secondary, specialist and mental health services for older people in care homes.

Social care, health and public health practitioners facilitate access to primary, secondary, specialist and mental health services for older people in care homes by referring the person to the required service when they need it.

Local authorities and other commissioning services commission services from providers that can produce evidence of arrangements with local healthcare organisations which facilitate access to primary, secondary, specialist and mental health services for older people in care homes.

What the quality statement means for service users

Older people in care homes can see their GP and use hospital services when they need them.

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Care homes

This refers to all care home settings, including residential and nursing accommodation, and includes people accessing day care and respite care.

[Expert consensus]

Healthcare services

These include primary care, and acute and specialist physical and mental health services.

[GP services for older people living in residential care: a guide for care home managers. (SCIE guide 52)]

Equality and diversity considerations

When deciding if access to healthcare services is needed, staff working with older people in care homes should be aware of any learning disabilities, acquired cognitive impairments, communication and language barriers, sensory impairment, and cultural differences. Staff should ensure that they are aware of the needs and preferences of older people who are approaching the end of their life.

It is important that staff are aware that older people in care homes have the same right to access healthcare as people living independently in the community. This is stated in the NHS Constitution for England.