SIGNIFICANT increases in hospital bed capacity and development of a range of integrated community care packages and enhanced home care supports are at the core of the joint €35.7 million UL Hospitals’ Group (ULHG) and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare Winter Plan for 2020-21.
The Winter Plan is a range of integrated measures aimed at keeping the residents of the Mid-West well and ensuring the safe provision of care in our hospitals during a period of unprecedented challenge for the health services.
While Covid-19 remains prevalent within the community, the total Winter Plan investment of almost €36m will improve access to appropriate care at home or close to home, with an emphasis on hospital avoidance.
Under the plan, more than €20 million is allocated to UL Hospitals’ Group for investment in staffing for its ongoing expansion of single-room bed capacity, primarily at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).
Since the Autumn, UHL has opened 38 beds in new rapid-build bed blocks constructed under the national Covid-19 emergency plan, and commenced the phased opening of its new 60-bed block, involving the immediate opening of 20 beds, following by 20 more in December and the final 20 in early January 2021.
The plan also allocates €15.7 million to HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare for the delivery of enhanced community services and prioritising the development of the Integrated Care for Older Persons Programme to enable more elderly people to remain in their own homes.
Other community measures include a high quality integrated care programme for people suffering from chronic disease and the delivery of Community Healthcare Networks.
Additional supports have been provided for the purchase of additional aids and appliances to support people at home, the main objective to facilitate palliative care and hospital discharges.
Colette Cowan, CEO of UL Hospitals’ Group, said this joint plan is an integrated approach that improves access to healthcare services across the Mid-West in hospitals or closer to home.
If people need hospital treatment, she stressed public hospitals are the safest places they can be.
Chief Officer of HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare Maria Bridgeman outlined their focus is on providing high quality safe healthcare in a person’s home or as close to home as possible, which is welcomed by patients and ensures they play their part in hospital avoidance.