Virgin Care partnership helps avoid hospital admissions

Community Matrons from Virgin Care are playing a key role in a dedicated Frailty Team working at Queen’s Hospital in Burton, supporting elderly patients arriving at A&E avoid admissions into hospital.

As part of a pilot scheme run in partnership by the Trust and Virgin Care until the end of March, a Frailty Consultant from Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, a Virgin Care Community Matron, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, an Occupational Therapist, a Physiotherapist and a Social Care Assessor, will work at the ‘front door’ of the hospital’s Emergency Department quickly identifying patients who are aged over 75 and are frail and quickly put care in place to support them.

The team assesses patients against criteria including the number of previous hospital visits the person has made, the medication they are currently taking, their general health, nutrition, mood and continence.

Patients identified as frail by the team then receive the right care in the right setting to help avoid a stay in a hospital bed where it’s clinically appropriate for them to be supported at home instead. The National Audit Office has said that for older people in particular, longer stays in hospital can lead to worse health outcomes for individuals – their report into discharging older patients from hospital added they can quickly lose mobility and the ability to do everyday tasks such as bathing and dressing*.

The team were able to support the earlier discharge of 13 patients, avoiding overnight stays in hospital by providing additional care at home between 20 November and 31 December. During the same period, the team also reduced pressure on A&E by identifying 29 patients who were able to go home and be cared for by community services.

Virgin Care has already helped about 480 people between May 2016 and October 2017 avoid spending a night in hospital, reducing pressure on Burton Hospital A&E and helping people to stay healthier at home – the aim of the Improving Lives programme the organisation was commissioned to deliver by the local NHS.

Michelle Lee, Managing Director of the Virgin Care East Staffordshire Improving Lives Programme, said: “Avoiding admission for those who can be looked after at home is safer for many frail older people who would rather be supported to stay in their own home. This is a fantastic example of collaborative working, ensuring that people get the right care, in the right place and at the right time and reducing avoidable hospital admissions.”

Julie Thompson, Senior Nurse for Older People at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust added: “The collaborative work with Virgin Care demonstrates how positive partnership working can be. The ability to enable frail elderly people to go back home into the community rather than being admitted to hospital reaps benefits that cannot be underestimated. It prevents deconditioning and enhances their quality of life.”

The East Staffordshire Improving Lives Programme focuses on helping people to be healthier for longer and helps those people with long-term health conditions to take more control over their own care. For more information about East Staffordshire Improving Lives, visit: www.eaststaffsimprovinglives.nhs.uk.

Last year, Virgin Care’s Citizens’ Panel in East Staffordshire engaged in frailty workshop to help people learn more about falls at home and how they could keep themselves safe. People can sign up to the Citizens Panel online at http://eaststaffsimprovinglives.nhs.uk/citizenspanel/get-involved/signup/.

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