Trust offers Hospital at Home for Older People

Ann King, Specialist Nurse, Leonard and Eilish McGrath and Denise Curran, Specialist Occupational Therapist.
Ann King, Specialist Nurse, Leonard and Eilish McGrath and Denise Curran, Specialist Occupational Therapist.

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust’s ‘Acute Care at Home’ service is now offering hospital care to older people either in their own house or nursing/residential home.

In its first year, the pilot service has prevented around 400 hospital admissions and has supported a much earlier discharge for about 100 people.

As the first Consultant Geriatrician Led Service of its kind in Northern Ireland, the team takes referrals from GPs and Craigavon Area Hospital for suitable patients and aims to respond in just a few hours.

The team has the same access to diagnostic and laboratory services as they would in a hospital setting so for the first time a community service is able to treat patients with a much wider range of acute illnesses at home.

Consultant Geriatrician Dr Patricia McCaffrey, who is the Lead Consultant for the Acute Care at Home Service explains: “A hospital admission can be traumatic and disruptive for anyone, but particularly for an older person who may be less mobile, or for those who have dementia.

This new service aims to support our increasing number of older residents who are living with more complex needs. With access to mobile diagnostic equipment, the team can go to patients in their own home to carry out scans, take blood tests or organise other diagnostic investigations and treat a range of conditions like urinary tract and chest infections or dehydration. We want to promote a better quality of life for our older population, so we hope that by offering safe, high, quality care in the home environment we can support older people to live independently for longer and where possible avoid the need to for a stressful, emergency hospital admission.”

The Acute Care at Home team includes a Speciality Doctor, Specialist Nurses, staff nurse and health care assistants, Pharmacist , Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, and can get support quickly from Community Psychiatric Nursing and home care support.

The service is funded by the Southern Local Commissioning Group and supported by the Southern Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs).

Initially started as a pilot, Acute Care at Home is now available across the Craigavon and Banbridge area, most of Armagh and Dungannon and with the continued support of Integrated Care Partnerships will eventually be available throughout the Southern area.

Feedback to date has been very positive as Maria McGrath, who experienced the service with her father says: “We had phoned the ambulance for daddy after he took quite a bad seizure. The crew gave us the option of admission to hospital or to be referred to the Acute Care at Home Team. To find out more about the McGrath family log on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN4Itp0X1Tg