Free health equipment doubles in Sheffield

Sheffield authorities have doubled the amount of free health equipment they give out which helps people live independently.

Friday, 11th October 2019, 11:41 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 11:10 am
Crutches are part of the thousands of equipment delivered to Sheffield residents each year.

A contract commissioned jointly by Sheffield Council and the clinical commissioning group has seen around 5,000 items – including anything from a plastic pill popper to a full scale bed hoist – delivered to residents across the city.

The contract has been active since 2015 and during that time the service has seen a significant rise in demand.

Joe Horobin, head of commissioning and adult social care , said: “The focus of this service is very much about maintaining people’s independence for as long as possible in their community.

“It goes without saying the provision of equipment at the right time in the right way enables people to remain independent and active in their community for longer and it contributes significantly to the citywide health and social care agenda in supporting a reduction in unplanned admissions to hospitals and facilitating timely hospital discharge as well as delaying the need to go into residential care.”

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The current contract will run out in June 2020 and so the authorities are looking at how they can develop the new contract further.

Ms Horobin said: “The changes we are looking at are around expanding the scope of the service. Over the life of the current contract we’ve seen a huge demand for the service with almost double the number of pieces of equipment being delivered last year than in the first year of the contract so it is a demand driven contract and we see that as a good news story because that means we are supporting more people to be more independent.

“We’ve also seen a shift in the use of the contract towards more equipment being provided urgently within 24 hours or 48 hours rather than for a longer period of time. We continue to work really closely with prescribers of equipment to try and ensure we get the balance right.”

Councillor George Lindars-Hammond, cabinet member for health and social care, said: “The service has changed massively over recent years and reflects a massive challenge we have in social care.

“Doing this well keeps people independent, safe and well… It’s correct that we’re not just throwing this back out, we are looking at how we can get this absolutely right. It hasn’t been perfect and won’t be perfect but we can make it better.”

He added that one of the key things they were looking at was how the contract can reduce its impact on the environment, through reusing equipment and recycling at the end of its cycle.

Coun Hammond also said the service was the best example of how the council can work together with the CCG to provide services.

He said: “When people say to me ‘what does this joint commissioning with the CCG look like?’ I say look at what we are doing here. We are providing a service where you do not have to worry as a citizen of Sheffield about whether it is a health or a social care need – we are working as one and we are genuinely bringing our money together to work better for the citizens of Sheffield.

“There is no better example on the ground right now of how we can do that across many services in order to have a better and sustainable health and social care services.”

Sheffield Council’s cabinet approved the development of the contract at a meeting this week.