CLIFTON Hospital has a new team that is bridging the gap between hospital and home for patients.
The Clifton Outreach Support Team (COST) is the first service of its kind across the Fylde Coast and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It was implemented as a pilot in December 2016 and has demonstrated successful outcomes as an alternative to hospital bed based services.
The team consists of nursing staff, therapists and health care assistants who provide support for patients experiencing delays in returning home from a spell in hospital. They provide packages of support for up to two weeks until the patients, either existing or new, have a package of care or reablement, support in place.
‘Reablement’ helps people who have experienced deterioration in their health and/or have increased support needs to relearn the skills required to keep them safe and independent at home.
Packages of support can vary from provision of activities of daily living such as washing or preparing food, to supporting patients by making sure they take their medication and are correctly using any medical devices they need to use to stabilise their conditions.
It can sometimes take up to four weeks for a care agency to be available to meet these patients’ needs which means the patients stay in hospital as there is nowhere else for them to go to cope without domestic help. Some of these patients have been referred to in the press as ‘bed blockers’.
With an increasing number of patients, this service will look after eight to ten patients in their own home to help bridge the gap, freeing up hospital beds and improving patient flow. They are also saving money and bed days.
COST team coordinator, Hannah Goddard, said: “This is a really positive scheme.
“We are learning and improving all the time to bridge the gap between hospital and home and we are thinking outside the box.
“The service has so much potential. We are working with lots of different agencies and through communicating well with these various services, we are gaining a better understanding and learning other ways of working.
“It’s really important to get a medically fit patient home as the longer they stay in hospital, the more they can lose confidence and become institutionalised.
Our service has become very popular. One patient even offered to pay for us to continue.”
Head of Service at Clifton, David Kay, said: “The service has been well received by patients and their families and has provided opportunity for staff development.
“During the pilot it has proved to be cost effective and we are now in the process of evaluating the service and drafting a business case”.
The COST service mirrors the patients’ needs that are identified by the social workers. The team also works with other services such as the Rapid Response Team, A&E and the Early Supported Discharge Team.