Time to go Dutch?

30 October 2017

Emma Tanti comments on the controversial new NHS ‘Airbnb’ scheme.

The news of a pilot NHS scheme, which will see homeowners being paid £1,000 a month to ‘host’ patients recovering from minor procedures, has sparked debate. Dubbed an ‘Airbnb’ style scheme, it is being implemented to try and tackle bed-blocking and allow patients who don’t have a support network at home to convalesce away from the hospital without being alone.

Whether you’re for or against the scheme, bed-blocking in UK hospitals is a chronic issue within the NHS, meaning that exploring new and innovative ways to address this problem is essential. Earlier this year, Andrew Smith and I, travelled to the Netherlands to explore their system of ‘care hotels’. These facilities are integral to the health and social care system in the Netherlands, providing a place for people to rest and recover in between the acute care of a hospital facility and discharge to their own home. While there are similarities to intermediate care, Discharge to Assess and step-down care in the UK, the Dutch care hotels are purpose-built facilities that offer a hotel ambience and service, but are located within, or near, a hospital campus.

Of course, there are many challenges to overcome if the UK were to adopt a care hotel model, not least funding for the new developments and where they would be located. But the Dutch use of care hotels offers a potential solution and a more sustainable and specialist approach.