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Acute Care at Home expansion in the South


Team members and staff involved in the development of the new Acute Care at Home service for older people. Pictured are, back (left-right): Des Gourley, Pharmacist; Dr Paul McGucken, Consultant Geriatrician; Michele Bekmez, Business Manager for Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) in the Southern area; Josephine McBride, Health Care Assistant; Pat Connor, Nurse; Seodhna Magill, Specialist Nurse; Christina Mallon, Specialist Nurse; Dr Barney McCoy, ICP Clinical Lead for the Southern Region; and Niamh Canavan, Specialist Physiotherapist. Front (left-right): Maria Quinn, Administration Support; Eamon Farrell, Transforming Your Care Service Improvement Lead, Orla McHugh, Specialist Nurse; and Denise Curran, Specialist Occupational Therapist.

Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) in the Southern area deliver joined up services to enable more older people to be cared for at home. 

The establishment of ICPs in the South has allowed the Southern Trust to work more effectively with GPs and community pharmacies, independent sector care homes, as well as service users and carers, to develop a more comprehensive acute care at home service.

The Acute Care at Home Service involves a range of healthcare professionals working together to help older people manage conditions such as chest infections, urinary tract infections, cellulitis and dehydration without the need for attending the emergency department, or being admitted to hospital. The team is led by a Consultant Geriatrician and includes a Speciality Doctor, Specialist Nurses, a Pharmacist and has input from Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Community Psychiatric Nursing.

The service is funded by the Southern Local Commissioning Group.

Mrs Angela McVeigh, Director of Older People and Primary Care in the Southern Trust explains: “We want to promote a better quality of life for our older population, so we are delighted to be able to introduce this new service which we hope will support older people to live independently for longer and, where possible, help avoid hospital admissions.”

Since September 2014, the service has accepted over 220 referrals. The team takes referrals from GPs, emergency departments and inpatient wards for patient in their own homes or in nursing or residential homes.  The service has full access to diagnostic and laboratory services which allows them to access urgent scans, x-rays and blood results to ensure the prompt commencement of treatments such as Intravenous antibiotics and fluids. The team can also organise direct admissions to hospital where appropriate, preventing the need for older people to go to an emergency department.

Phase 1 of the Acute Care at Home service has been introduced in the greater Craigavon area for patients in their own homes, and to patients in 35 care homes across the Craigavon, Banbridge, Armagh and Dungannon areas.  The service is available to take new referrals Monday to Friday, 8.00am – 6.00pm. Specialist nursing staff work on Saturday and Sunday for the review of existing patients and provide an on-call service from 8am to 11pm seven days a week. Work is now underway to expand the availability of this service to ensure it is accessible to a larger number of patients across the Southern Area and to provide additional medical cover later in the evening and on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays .

Dr Barney McCoy, ICP Clinical Lead for the Southern Region said: “The service is already helping the increasing number of older people who are living with more complex needs and supporting them to manage acute illness in their own home, including nursing and residential accommodation. We know that a large number of referrals to emergency departments for older people currently take place after 3.00pm, often following a home visit by a GP in the early afternoon. By extending the availability of the Acute Care at Home Service, the team will be able to accept more referrals and significantly increase the number of older people who are receiving safe, high quality care in the right place, at the right time.”

As part of the development process of the Acute Care at Home Service, ongoing liaison is taking place with GPs and community pharmacists to help ensure its success in providing safe, high quality care to older people.

Find out more about the Acute Care at Home service by watching the video below: