NHS England has begun the national roll out of the online Capacity Tracker to help people find places in care homes.
It has begun to make the tool available to local authorities following trials in the north, Devon and Berkshire last year in which more than 6,250 care homes signed up to use it.
The organisation said it should save users a lot of time in phoning around to check availability and help to deal with the problem of bed blocking in hospitals.
In 2018 around 250,000 hospital bed days in England were taken up by people who were medically fit enough to be discharged but who faced delays in finding an appropriate care home.
NHS England said the Capacity Tracker is available for any device and enables care homes to upload details of available beds in just 30 seconds. It is also aimed at strengthening collaboration between health and social care workers in line with the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan.
It was developed and the pilot led by the North of England Commissioning Support Unit, funded by NHS England. Care homes, local authorities, CCGs and hospital staff were involved in creating the system, and care home champions are being encouraged to provide feedback on its use.
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England said: “One of the central ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan is to better support people to age well, and that means joining up different services locally to better meet people’s needs.
“By using this technology to work together more closely, hospitals, local authorities and care homes can ensure that people get the right care in the right place at the right time and are not left waiting in hospital unnecessarily.
“Working with our local government, hospitals and community services as well as patients and their families has been essential to developing this new approach and will be key to rolling it out everywhere.”
Image from iStock, Slobodan Vasic