Successful trial initiative helps frail patients avoid long hospital stays

Vulnerable older people attending Northamptonshire’s A&Es are being helped to get the care and support they need more quickly – and avoid potentially lengthy stays in hospital beds – under a successful collaborative trial programme.

NHCP’s new Frailty Assessment Team brings together specialist professionals from a range of services across the local NHS, social care and the voluntary sector. Based in the emergency departments at Kettering and Northampton General Hospitals, they work closely together to provide speedy assessment and treatment for frail elderly patients.

For patients living with frailty, long stays in hospital can result in a further loss of independence – so the team’s objective is to make sure that the reason they’re attending A&E is addressed as quickly as possible without them needing to be admitted to hospital, wherever it is clinically safe to do so. If they need further support to recover from
their illness or injury while retaining their independence at home, the team works to ensure the appropriate assistance can be put in place.

In the first phase of the trial programme, a total of 75 vulnerable patients were seen by the Frailty Assessment Team across the two acute hospitals and six out of every 10 were helped to be safely discharged the same day. Statistics show that these patients might otherwise have been admitted and remained in hospital for between nine and 12 days on average.

Many of the people seen by the team were referred to the county’s innovative new Supporting Independence Programme, which is funded by Public Health Northamptonshire and provides personalised support for people living with mild frailty.

Further testing of the Frailty Assessment Team programme will be undertaken in the coming weeks to inform potential plans for it to be introduced on a long-term basis. Feedback from patients and their families has been positive, with many appreciating the simplicity and effectiveness of being seen and supported by a number of different professionals in one place.

“We have had excellent care and prompt treatment today – lots of advice given from everyone,” said a family member of one patient. Another said: “Didn’t realise all the support available, found it really useful.”

This area of work responds to the ‘Information’ and ‘Personalised Care’ categories of your Big Ideas

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