A new study has suggested that care homes could help reduce the burden on the NHS created by discharge problems.
The report from think tank Respublica said the health service should put more investment into care homes so they can support patients who are often trapped in hospitals.
According to official NHS figures, more than 4,000 patients have to stay on a ward, even though they could be discharged. This signifies a rise of more than a third in little over two years, and it's estimated that it will cost the health service around £3.3 billion in the next three years.
This occurs because there is no place for them to go in the community, but the report says this could offer a "win win" situation for care homes.
However, if this £3.3 billion was invested in care homes, they would be able to take on all the patients who face delays with their discharge from hospital and also invest in services and staff.
It could both make more space for people who need medical treatment in hospitals and bring more investment for the care home sector, the report states.
As current trends for bed blockers are expected to continue, it's important that a solution is found to ensure elderly people can get access to the care services they need.
Phillip Blond, director of Respublica, said: "The bed blocking crisis in the NHS is only getting worse - clogging up wards and leaving newly arrived patients on trolleys in hospital corridors."
The additional funds could help care homes keep running, he added, giving vital support to elderly and disabled people in the community.
Known as "step-down care", patients would be temporarily looked after in homes until more long-term plans could be decided. This idea is already being trialled in places around the UK.
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