My View, Dr David Crichton: Helping people get better in their homes
I've no doubt you will know about GP care, A&E care, hospital care and even home care. But have you heard of intermediate care?
It covers a wide range of health and social care services aimed at keeping people in the community rather than in hospital, or helping them to leave hospital as soon as they are well enough to do so.
It’s mainly used to support older aged people – many with long-term health problems - who, for example, have been injured after falling or need a bit more support while they recover from a minor illness. It centres on short-term care - usually for a few days to weeks - to help them get back on their feet as soon as possible.
The care is usually provided by a range of professionals with different skills, likes nurses, physiotherapists and home help workers.
Because it helps people to be discharged from hospital early, or avoid them having to go there in the first place, support can be provided in a person’s own home or care home settings, depending on their condition.
In Doncaster, we’re developing exciting new plans for intermediate care to transform the way that older people - and those with health and social care problems - are treated when they need the NHS at very short notice.
Here’s what currently happens. Let’s say an 84-year-old local lady - we’ll call her Freda - who lives in supported accommodation, is found by her carers at home after falling as she got out of bed. Carers ring 999 and when paramedics arrive, Freda is taken by ambulance to A&E, assessed by a doctor, has an x-ray and after several hours is admitted to a hospital ward.
But imagine this. If instead of automatically taking Freda to A&E by ambulance, a local rapid response team is ready to spring into action to help her. They would assess her condition and make sure she is ok, without having to visit A&E. She would be prescribed pain relief and remain at home. The following day a therapist would visit Freda to assess her risk of having a further fall, check her mobility and confidence, and then advise her carers of any on-going needs.
It’s the same scenario, but with a better outcome for Freda, avoiding a visit to A&E and freeing up more time for doctors to see those patients who really need emergency care.
This is the kind of intermediate care service we’re currently developing for Doncaster people like Freda. Being taken to hospital by ambulance can be a traumatic experience for an older person, particularly if they have dementia and feel confused by being taken away from their normal surroundings. Research proves people recover much quicker if they are given the support they need to get back into their daily routine as soon as possible, and they feel much better being cared for at home.