A new online service designed to help social services staff in London find vacant beds at care homes and avoid hospital bed blocking has been launched by Bettercaring.


Since 1 January local authorities have been liable to pay fines if their failure to find care home places results in hospital beds being occupied by people whose discharge has been delayed.


Bettercaring for London (BfL) monitors vacancies in all of the 700-plus care homes across the capital.  Available to social workers and care managers in the 33 boroughs across London, the Oracle-based BfL service is updated in real-time and allows users to search across boundaries.


Bettercaring says: “This is important because there aren’t a lot of care homes in some London boroughs, such as Westminster and the City of London, and social workers need to look outside their own boroughs when they make placements.”


Sales director, Anna Bailey told E-Health Insider the response to the service, launched before Christmas, had been good.  Nine out of London’s 33 boroughs have signed up to use the service and the Greater London Association of Directors of Social Services has agreed to meet to explore the possibility of a London-wide contract.


BfL is a London-wide version of Bettercaring’s existing BEDVACS service which is used by 12 UK local authorities.


Ms Bailey explained: “This is the first time we’ve rolled it out on a wider geographical basis. The costs come down and it means they [users] are able to access much more detailed information.”


She said that care managers who currently spend a great deal of time on the phone trying to find care home places could be helped by the service. “It can massively save time and resources and improve the level of information they can get hold of.”