29 Sept 2022

WATCH: Over 1,000 Patients have benefited from Acute Care at Home Service in the Western Trust area

Acute Care at Home Team with patient Hugh Lindsay
The winter months are a particularly challenging time for older people, especially for those already managing conditions. With the arrival of the colder weather so to comes the risk of infections and viruses which can be harmful to vulnerable older people. The Western Trust’s Acute Care at Home Team, which was essentially set up to provide care for people in their own homes, have recently reached a milestone of treating over 1,000 patients since its launch two years ago. Watch patient, Hugh Lyndsay from Waterside, Derry, talk about his experiences with the Acute Care at Home Service: The service is delivered by a specialist multidisciplinary team led by a Consultant Geriatrician and consisting of Specialty Doctors, a Pharmacist Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Nurses, Support Workers and clerical staff. Essentially the service provides the same access to diagnostic and laboratory services as patients would expect to receive in a hospital setting, allowing the team to be able to treat patients with a range of acute illnesses at home. Patients can be referred to the service by their GP or the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, who will discuss with the Acute Care at Home Team, the best place of care to meet the specific needs of the patient. Referrals are also received from colleagues in Altnagelvin in order to facilitate an earlier discharge home for patients. Dr Bob Brown, Director for Primary Care and Older People at the Western Trust said: “The short-term acute service provides a ‘virtual ward’ in the patient’s home to treat their illness, avoiding admission to hospital or helping with an early discharge home from hospital. “I would like to pay tribute to the Acute Care at Home Team for providing such a fantastic service in the local community. We know that a hospital admission can often cause stress and anxiety for patients, particularly those living with dementia and this service allows people to live independently for longer and, where possible, help avoid hospital admissions. The service demonstrates the success of transformation and the need to continue to reform and personalise our services to meet the evolving health and social care needs of the population of the West.” Dr Stephen Todd, Consultant Geriatrician and Clinical Lead for the Acute Care at Home Team said: “The service is helping many older people to manage acute illness in the comfort of their own home, including nursing and residential accommodation. The team can treat a wide range of conditions such as chest infections and dehydration and can carry out scans and take blood tests in the patient’s home. By offering patients more accessible care in the community, we are seeing very positive outcomes from this service.” Mr Lyndsay, Acute Care at Home Service User, was treated at home after falling unwell this year, he said: “Within an hour of visiting my GP, a Doctor and Nurse from the Acute Care at Home team had visited me in my own home. They did a full assessment on me, as if I was in hospital. Over a three-day period I got the care and medication I would of received had I of been in a hospital ward. I was also visited by a Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist. In essence I got my care at home, I received all the services that I would of done had I of been in hospital. I couldn’t praise the team high enough.” Jenny McWhirter, Acting Head of Service and Acute Care at Home Team Lead explains: “We have received extremely positive feedback from an Acute Care at Home survey. The majority of respondents stated that some of the main benefits of referring to the service included patient or family preference to remain at home and ease of referral pathway which is via telephone. Jenny added: “The Acute Care at Home Team have treated and assessed over 1,000 patients with approximately 76% of which were GP referrals and 24% were facilitated early discharges from Altnagelvin Hospital. 96% of GPs responded that the patient experience was satisfactory, saying they would recommend using the service again to their patients/families and would recommend the service to other GPs. The key benefits of this service is that it keeps patients out of hospital, patient experience has been very positive and reduces the risk of hospital acquired infection which is particularly important over the winter months. “We have also taken on board a number of comments on how to improve this service and are looking forward to working with GPs, patients and their families on how best we can meet their needs now and into the future.” Pictured above: Patient Hugh Lyndsay from Waterside, Derry, pictured with the Western Trust Acute Care at Home Team staff, Concepta O’Donnell, Acute Care at Home Support Worker, and Deborah McDaid, Acute Care at Home Sister.

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