Representatives from across the HSC have welcomed the £1 million investment package launched by Health Minister Hamilton, as part of his £30m Transformation fund, to support the delivery of the Enhanced Care at Home service in the Ards and North Down area.
Following the Minister’s announcement, representatives from across the health and social care sector gathered to attend an information event about the innovative new service, which is providing older people with expert medical and social care in their own home.
The Enhanced Care at Home team involves a range of healthcare professionals working together to help older people manage conditions such as chest infections, urinary tract infections, cellulitis and dehydration; avoiding the need to attend the emergency department, or be admitted to hospital. The patient is cared for in their own home with the support of a Consultant Geriatrician who specialises in the care and treatment of older people, and the patient’s own GP. The team also includes specialist nurses, social care and Allied Health Professionals, such as physiotherapists.
The initiative has been supported by the South Eastern Local Commissioning Group and established by the South Eastern Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) which have brought together the healthcare professionals, voluntary and community representatives and service users and carers, all essential in designing an effective new service.
Dr Grainne Doran, GP lead and Chairman of the North Down Integrated Care Partnership, explains:
“Patients referred to the Enhanced Care at Home service will receive, within their own home environment, assessment and treatment from a team of specialist professionals coordinated through their own GP and District Nurse. This service, an excellent example of joined up and innovative working, is designed to enable health and social care providers to work more closely together. Enhanced Care at Home delivers seamless care, providing a better experience for patients, their families and carers whilst reducing pressure on hospital services. This initiative keeps people well in local communities enabling us to share information better to plan safe, high quality care around each individual’s needs.”
Older people, age 65 and over, can currently be referred to the service by their GP or District Nurse. The team will provide a comprehensive and rapid assessment; advice and guidance; and agreement of a 24/7 treatment plan, including how often the team will visit the patient.
Nicki Patterson, Director of Primary Care, Older People and Executive Director of Nursing at the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, said:
“Enhanced Care at Home provides a wraparound, short term intensive service within a patient’s own home to manage an acute episode of illness. The patient can be cared for in their own familiar surroundings, sleeping in their own bed, eating their own familiar diet, with their usual family & social networks around them. They are not exposed to the potential of adverse health outcomes that can result from going in to hospital such as disruption of routine, loss of confidence and independence. When it is safe and appropriate there really is no ward like home.”
The Enhanced Care at Home Service is now in place in the Ards and North Down area and is expected to be expanded to cover the whole of the South Eastern Local Commissioning Group area. A similar service is in operation across Belfast and in parts of the Southern area; and opportunities are being considered to develop existing community services in the Northern and Western areas.
Dr Ian Clements, Chairman of the Health and Social Care Board, added: “A key aim of Transforming Your Care, and the development of 17 Integrated Care Partnerships across Northern Ireland, is to ensure that each person gets the care they need, in the right place, and at the right time. The establishment of the Enhanced Care at Home service in Ards and North Down area, and similar models of care throughout the province, are essential in the transformation of how we deliver urgent care to our growing number of older people, many of whom are living with more complex needs.”
Watch the video below to find out more about how Enhanced Care at Home is improving health and well-being of older people: