The influence of home care supply on delayed discharges from hospital in England

Stephen Allan, Daniel Roland, Gintare Malisauskaite, Karen Jones, Kate Baxter, Kate Gridley, Yvonne Frances Birks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Delayed transfers of care (DTOC) of patients from hospital to alternative care settings are a longstanding problem in England and elsewhere, having negative implications for patient outcomes and costs to health and social care systems. In England, a large proportion of DTOC are attributed to a delay in receiving suitable home care. We estimated the relationship between home care supply and delayed discharges in England from 2011-2016.
Methods Reduced form fixed effects OLS models of annual DTOC attributed to social care at local authority (LA)-level from 2011-2016 were estimated, using both number of days and patients as the dependent variable. A count of home care providers at LA-level was utilised as the measure of home care supply. Demand (e.g. population, health, income) and alternative supply (e.g. care home places, local unemployment) measures were included as controls. Instrumental Variable (IV) methods were used to control for any simultaneity in the relationship between DTOC and home care supply. Models for DTOC attributed to NHS and awaiting a home care package were used to assess the adequacy of the main model.
Results We found that home care supply significantly reduced DTOC. Each extra provider per 10 sq. km. in the average local authority decreased DTOC by 14.9 per cent (equivalent to 449 days per year), with a per provider estimate of 1.6 per cent (48 days per year). We estimated cost savings to the public sector over the period of analysis from reduced DTOC due to increased home care provision between £73m-£274m (95% CI: £0.24m to £545.3m), with a per provider estimate of savings per year of £12,600 (95% CI: £900 to £24,500).
Conclusion DTOC are reduced with better supply of home care, and this reduces costs to the NHS. Further savings could be achieved through improved outcomes of people no longer delayed. Appropriate levels of social care supply are required to ensure efficiency in spending for the public sector overall.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1297
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Early online date2 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s). 2021


  • Delayed transfers of care
  • Home care
  • Social Care
  • Older people
  • delayed discharges
  • supply

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