UK's NHS to pilot 'Airbnb'-style care service in homeowners' spare rooms

Folk with no prior care experience to be handed £1k

The NHS has been criticised over plans for an "Airbnb"-style scheme in which homeowners will be paid £1,000 a month to host patients in their spare rooms.

Startup CareRooms is working with trusts and councils in Essex. Folks who sign up are asked to cook three microwave meals for their patient each day, provide them with drinks and "offer conversation" - although no care experience is required.

CareRooms medical director Harry Thirkettle, a part-time emergency registrar in Essex, told Health Service Journal, which broke the story: "Everyone’s immediate concern is, understandably, safeguarding. We are working hard to be better than standard practice.

"We are not going off half-cocked… We are not going to start taking on patients until we have satisfied all these different organisations' governance procedures and committees. We are really carefully considering this and making sure it is as safe as possible."

The blurb on CareRooms reads: "We are working with the local health and care community to provide a safe, comfortable place for people to recuperate from hospital.

"To do this, we are transforming spare rooms and annexes into secure care spaces for patients who are waiting to be discharged.

"All you need is a spare bedroom or annex with easy access to a private bathroom."

However, Save South A&E campaign said it was concerned that the company had been handing out flyers in Southend Hospital.

"We are shocked that an NHS trust is endorsing such a company," said a spokesman.”

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, a charity that aims to improve social care across the UK, said the model of care raises questions about whether the safety and well-being of the individual have been fully considered.

It seems some government policy-makers are obsessed with the so-called sharing economy model. Jonathan Salter, permanent secretary at the Department for Education, has previously said there ought to be an "Uber for supply teachers".

An NHS England spokeswoman said: "An NHS England spokesperson said: "While it's good to hear innovative ideas from NHS staff, this suggestion from an A&E doctor in Southend is a long way from being implemented and would first need to be very carefully assessed and tested." ®

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