More than 13,000 hospital bed days have been freed up in the past year by a project helping older people off the wards when they no longer need to be there.
The initiative, piloted by the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership involving NHS Lothian and the local authority, sees patients placed in care homes on an interim basis.
So far around 200 people have been through the process.
Among them is 94-year-old Archie McQuater, who spent seven months in hospital after having a toe removed following diabetic complications.
He didn’t feel strong enough to go home, but time at the Elsie Inglis care home has helped to build up his confidence.
“I’m allowed to do things for myself – at first it was with people caring for me and making sure I was safe. After that I was allowed to do what I wanted myself,” he told STV News.
“Where I needed help, I’ve got this thing on my wrist (an alarm button) that I can press and help comes to me.”
Archie’s daughter Ruth believes it’s made a significant difference to him.
“Him being here is a fantastic intermediate stage for him coming home, because he’s care for but has that level of independence that allows him to get stronger. Without that he’d almost be guaranteed to be back in hospital.“
With delayed discharges from hospital taking up around one in six beds across Scotland, people involved in the pilot hope it can be rolled out more widely.
Advanced nurse practitioner Dianne Coleman ensures the medical needs of residents are met.
“The time that they’re in an interim bed, this is their home and that’s the way the staff here look after them. The staff are excellent here and they look after them really well.”
Ms Coleman works together with Gary Smith from the Interim Placement Team who helps put care packages in place.
“We get so much positive feedback. People are getting their own environment, families are kept informed regarding the process so it has definitely been very successful.“
However, as is the case across Scotland in other in health and social care sectors, staff retention and recruitment could be the biggest threat to the pilot’s continued success.
At the Elsie Inglis home, one nursing vacancy has been unfilled for months after no applications were received.