Funded hospital discharges to care homes: a cohort study.
BACKGROUND: Optimising timely discharge from hospitals is an international priority. In 2020, the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in the United Kingdom Government implementing the Discharge to Assess (D2A) model across England. This funded temporary care home placement to allow further recovery and assessment of care needs outside of the hospital. OBJECTIVES: Determine if older adults discharged from hospital to care homes after implementation of D2A differ in their characteristics or outcomes. DESIGN AND METHODS: Two cohorts of older adults discharged from hospital to care homes pre- and post-implementation of the D2A model (n = 244), with 6 months of follow-up. Data were extracted from routinely collected healthcare records. RESULTS: The mean duration of the hospital admission was reduced (29 vs. 23 days (P = 0.02)) but discharges to care homes did not increase with implementation of D2A (n = 161 in both cohorts prior to exclusions). In July-December 2020 (post-implementation), 28% of people were living in a private residence 6 months post-discharge, compared with 18% in the same period in 2019 (P = 0.09). When those who died were excluded, this changed to 40 vs. 28% (P = 0.19). There was no change in 6-month mortality (26 vs. 35% (P = 0.17)), and no increase in readmission rate (0.48 vs. 0.63 (P = 0.21) readmissions-per-patient over 6 months). No differences in key characteristics were found. However, patients were placed in care homes further from admission addresses (17.3 vs. 9.8 km (P = 0.00001)). CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of D2A did not result in poorer outcomes but was associated with a reduced length of hospital stay.