Patients on the Fylde coast are reaping the rewards of more personally tailored healthcare provided in the heart of the community.
This innovative service, known as Extensive Care, enables elderly and frail patients with two or more long-term conditions to receive more coordinated support closer to their home and less in hospital.
Earlier this year the Fylde coast was awarded ‘Vanguard’ status which means that the region’s plans to transform health and social care services will act as a blueprint for change in services across the rest of the country. Extensive Care is a key part of this.
One of many patients to benefit from Extensive Care since it launched in June 2015 is 67-year-old Blackpool resident John Kellow.
John said: “If it wasn’t for the Extensive Care service then I don’t know where I would be. I had nothing to live for. It has been a real eye-opener for me.”
Extensive Care provides proactive support to patients such as John, acting as a single point of contact for all of his healthcare needs. This means he no longer has various appointments with different professionals. The dedicated team supports John and other patients to better understand and manage their conditions in order to dramatically reduce the need for unplanned hospital visits.
Patients are allocated their own wellbeing support worker, who they meet with on a regular basis, to develop a long-term plan for their health. This includes setting a number of achievable goals which are all geared towards improving their health and wellbeing.
John is diabetic and has a heart condition. Over the past 12 months, John’s health had been declining and earlier this year he had a hip replacement after suffering a fall. This left him struggling to get about on his feet. All of this on top of family issues and financial worries left John with overwhelming feelings of anxiety and depression and he was also struggling with feeling socially isolated.
“I was in a poor state of health after my fall,” he said. “I had a hip replacement and was feeling so lonely because I had no company. Everything was getting me down and impacting upon my health.”
With the help of his wellbeing support worker, Lynn O’Sullivan, John has been achieving many of his goals which included learning to better manage his finances as well as joining local groups and clubs to take part in regular activities and meet new people.
John said: “The team has given me the impetus to turn my life around by increasing my confidence to tackle issues that I wouldn’t have done.
“They take the time to listen to me and my issues. I have come on an unbelievable amount. They really are a lifeline. They have given me the confidence to take control of my life. I feel a lot happier and healthier now.”
Former professional rugby player and retired firefighter Stuart Bradley, of Freckleton, is another person who has seen his health improve dramatically thanks to Extensive Care.
He once played for Halifax, Dewsbury and Batley, but now aged 64, Stuart has multiple health complaints including heart problems, diabetes and kidney failure. He also finds it difficult just to get about his own flat due to mobility issues as a result of severe arthritis and gout. All of these issues meant Stuart was regularly visiting his GP.
“When things went wrong I was taken to hospital,” said Stuart, who following a fall last Christmas was forced to relocate from his caravan to sheltered accommodation where he now lives with his partner of three years Beryl Kay. “I was going to see the doctor on a regular basis.”
Having been referred to the service by his GP, Stuart was assigned to wellbeing support worker Lee Jones, who meets regularly with the couple to discuss Stuart’s needs and concerns. Lee has provided Stuart with information sheets explaining what he should do in any of the health emergencies that could occur and also helped him devise a set of goals to work towards.
Stuart, who used to spend every day at the gym keeping fit, said: “The goals are just simple things, but things that have become incredibly different in recent years. They are things like doing more
DIY, cooking and doing more exercise.
“I had wanted to paint the hallway but was unable to as my legs start to hurt and I have to sit down every few minutes, so Lee got me a perching stool which has meant I have been able to make a start on the job. The stool has also helped me do some cooking.
“These are little things to many people but it makes a massive difference to me and makes me feel a lot happier while also helping get me up on my feet.”
The Extensive Care service is currently based at Moor Park Health Centre in Blackpool and Lytham Primary Care Centre with plans to roll it out further across the Fylde coast in 2016.
The Fylde coast health economy, when referred to as a vanguard site, includes the following organisations: NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG); NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG; Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust; Lancashire County Council and Blackpool Council.