A new urgent response service will work to keep frail older people out of hospital, especially after a fall, by sending a specialist team to their home to assess them and make sure they get the right treatment and help.
The service will target elderly patients who have been assessed by 999 or NHS111 call handlers as not having injuries or problems requiring an emergency hospital admission. As well as falls, the service will also support patients with urgent but non-emergency health issues such as diabetes related problems, non-severe burns, diarrhoea and vomiting and urine infections.
It is being funded by NHS Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and provided by Herts Urgent Care (HUC) with support from Hertfordshire County Council.
The paramedic and occupational therapist team will immediately assess the person’s medical or care needs as well as their home environment. The paramedic will give any immediate treatment needed and arrange for further medical help, if required, while the occupational therapist will offer home safety advice, order any mobility equipment they need and help them access help from other specialists. This might include GP appointments to review their medication, postural stability classes run by the integrated musculoskeletal service, Connect, or linking to other services such as care navigators or social care.
The service will serve patients across west Hertfordshire. The car will be operating from 8am to 7pm five days a week.
It builds on the success of an Emergency Care Practitioner (ECP) service that has been providing a similar service to patients in care homes since 2013. The ECP service responds to an average of 194 direct calls from care homes every month with additional calls taken from 999 calls. The service has been successful in treating 83 per cent of patients in their care home without them needing to be taken to hospital.
Dr Clair Moring, from Herts Valleys CCG who is clinical lead for the new service says: “Unless there are concerns that a patient might have a serious injury, such as a hip fracture, they don’t necessarily have to go into hospital after a fall. This new service is both about giving people the best possible assessment and immediate support to stay at home as well as keeping them safe and independent wherever possible. This will free up ambulances for emergency cases and reduce the pressure on the hospital.
“Falls at home are the cause of a significant number of hospital admissions among older people and ultimately people going into care homes. This service is focused on helping older people stay at home and keeping them well and mobile, rather than being confined in a hospital bed, which is key to them keeping their independence.”