Representing estates and facilities professionals operating within the  



Digital tool to help reduce avoidable lengthy stays in hospital

NHS England is to introduce a new digital portal to allow health and social care staff to instantly identify how many vacancies there are in local care homes. The initiative should save hours of time phoning around the check availability, help to ensure patients get the right care or return home as quickly as possible and ease bed blocking.


In 2018, around a quarter of a million hospital bed days in England were taken up by people who were medically fit enough to be discharged, but who faced delays in an appropriate care home being found that could meet their recovery needs.


The Capacity Tracker is to be rolled out to care homes, councils and hospitals across the country. The digital portal is accessible on any device, and it takes care homes just 30 seconds to upload details of their available beds, helping health and social care staff to find the right services for individual patients, including those with dementia or a learning disability.


Over 6,250 care homes have already signed up to the system, piloted in the North, Devon and Berkshire last year, and now thousands more can sign up to use it.


The roll-out of the tool will contribute to ambitions set out in the NHS Long Term Plan to upgrade support to reduce avoidable long stays in hospital, including better sharing of information between care homes and hospital staff.


The Capacity Tracker provides a ‘shop window’ for care homes across the country to share their vacancies as well as other important information about the care home, to enable an informed choice to be made


Jo Chilton, Programme Director, Adult Social Care Transformation Programme at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, says: “The Capacity Tracker was first introduced to Greater Manchester in 2017. We are pleased with the uptake it has had with care homes and health and social care teams across our localities now having quicker and better access to vacancy information. We have been impressed with the speed at which the Capacity Tracker support team have been able to on-board care homes over a very short space of time.”


The North of England Commissioning Support Unit, funded by NHS England, developed the tracker, and led the pilot. Care homes, local authority, CCG and hospital staff were involved in creating the system, and Care Home Champions are being regularly encouraged to give feedback to improve and spread its use.