30th April 2015 – Patients get round-the-clock on screen care when they leave hospital thanks to new technology
Telemedicine has proved a success with staff and residents alike at a unique housing scheme in Calderdale.
Heatherstones Court, used to accommodate people between leaving hospital and returning home, is now linked up to Airedale Hospital’s Telehealth Hub providing them with extra support and care on screen 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.
Thanks to telemedicine, the residents will be able to get urgent medical help from highly skilled nurses who specialise in acute care or hospital consultants via a secure video link if and when they need it – without having to leave the comfort of their own surroundings.
The 12 self-contained apartments at Skircoat Greem, in Halifax, offer care, housing support and the chance for residents to rebuild independence, with the aim of returning to live in the community. Residents may also live there following a stay in hospital. Formerly the building, owned by the local hospital, was used to train doctors and nurses but had been empty for a long time.
The scheme, which opened in January, is the first of this size and style in the country, uniquely supporting adults of all ages. It was created by Calderdale Council, NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Ground, Connect Housing and Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, bringing a previously unused site back into use and giving people a chance to keep their independence with extra support by investing in telemedicine and other technologies. Referrals can be made from hospitals such as Leeds, Sheffield, Calderdale and Huddersfield but the person must be a Calderdale resident. The residents may need help from physiotherapists or occupational therapy during their stay which can be up to six weeks with a further reassessment.
It means residents avoid making stressful and costly trips to hospital and the service provides not just vital medical care but also friendly advice and housing support.
“I think it’s brilliant, it should be in all care homes,” said reablement support assistant Tanya Smith who works within social care and signposts residents at Heatherstones to appropriate networks to make sure they get the individual care they need.
She has used the service to get medical help and advice for a resident with Alzheimers, who was having a stroke and who spoke very little English. On another occasion Tanya had asked for advice about a male resident who had been given his maximum amount of medication but was still in a lot of pain.
She said: “We can use it to ask questions about a patients’ medication, check whether we need to get them to hospital urgently or should we wait until the morning to see how they are doing. We are not medically trained and so it’s back up for us.”
The service is also available for residents to use themselves if they need help during the night explained Tanya. “Our residents love it here and telemedicine means there’s someone at the end of the phone who can give them or their carer help or reassurance if they need it.
“It’s really simply to use and you can quickly have a friendly face on screen on the laptop in your bedroom or living room.”
Bev Maybury, Director of Adults, Health and Social Care at Calderdale Council, said: “I’m really pleased that we decided to have the telemedicine installed in Heatherstones as it’s proved to be worthwhile already with positive results. I’m impressed by the service and going forward I hope it will be adopted in more care homes. The role of telemedicine at Heatherstones Court is a vital ingredient to allow our guests maximum independence while providing reassurance that access to specialist help and advice is available around the clock.”
Airedale NHS Foundation Trust teamed up with technical partners Involve in a partnership called Immedicare to provide its innovative telemedicine service to around 300 care homes throughout the country with the aim to help relieve pressures on urgent care services. Telemedicine is also used to support patients with long term conditions such as COPD, heart failure and complex diabetes in their own homes resulting in over 6000 patients being linked to the Telehealth Hub at the Trust.
Patients, who would previously have been sent by ambulance to their hospital’s Accident and Emergency department, and often admitted to hospital, can now be seen clearly on screen and treated remotely. They can be monitored from the hospital’s Telehealth hub, as often as required depending on their condition, with the back up of hands on treatment from community nursing teams, a GP, paramedic or hospital care if needed.
Independent research shows that for the nursing and residential home using Immedicare’s technology over the past two years:-
- hospital admissions dropped by 37%
- use of A&E dropped by 45%.
Rebecca Malin, deputy director of business development and investment at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to be able to use our telemedicine to support Heatherstone – which is such a great partnership venture.
“The message we hear back constantly from residents is that they feel assured just by having easy access to telemedicine knowing that if they need to see a nurse they can at the touch of a button.
“It’s so disruptive and upsetting for residents, particularly if they are elderly, if they have to be taken into hospital. They have told us that they would prefer to receive more care without having to leave their home – so it’s been down to us to change the way we work to meet their needs.”
The Heatherstones Court service provides a safe and pleasant place to recover before returning home and isexpected to support over 100 residents every year. With support from an expert team and modern facilities, people can go to Heatherstones directly from their own home for a short time to avoid hospital or permanent care. Also, when people have been in hospital and are ready to leave, they are sometimes not confident or well enough to go home straight away, but they might not need the high level of care offered in hospital or a care home.
Care, support and housing advice are provided on site to meet each resident’s needs, from physiotherapy to re-learning everyday activities.
Three of the apartments are fully accessible for wheelchairs, with appropriate equipment to help people, and have two bedrooms – so a partner, family member or carer can stay there too.