6th August 2013 – More specialist support for care homes and patients at the end of their life
Nurses and consultants at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice are set to extend the specialist advice service they provide for staff and their patients using video consultations
Starting this month (August), the charity will be using telemedicine to provide extra support to over 30 care homes across Airedale and Craven.
The hospice, based in Oxenhope, started using telemedicine two years ago in partnership with the Telehealth Hub at Airedale Hospital.
Now Manorlands will have a senior doctor or specialist nurse available between 9am and 5pm, Mondays to Fridays, to have telemedicine consultations with care home staff in Airedale and Craven. These could include requests for help with dealing with the patients’ symptoms such as pain, nausea, vomiting and restlessness, or just for general support to staff. Outside these times, the care homes can get advice from Airedale Hospital’s 24 hour Telehealth Hub.
As Manorlands’ community team covers such a large rural area, from Bingley to Bentham, the telemedicine service has proved to be a cost effective way of delivering support and advice to patients and health and social care professionals.
There are currently around 150 patients who receive palliative care in their own home from Manorlands and the specialists nurses also provide advice to the GPs, district nurses and practice staff who help look after them.
Pat Mowatt, clinical nurse specialist and telemedicine lead at Sue Ryder Manorlands, said: “Telemedicine has helped us so much compared to just telephone contact as the added dimension of being able to see a patient enables us to judge more confidently what treatments or other care to recommend.
“Patients learn very quickly how to use the equipment. During stressful times and especially out-of-hours, it has proved very reassuring for relatives who may need to get professional advice immediately.
“Most people don’t use it very much – but when they do, they say it’s great.”
Pat also highlights some issues. She said: “Unfortunately, in some cases when the installations are fixed, access for patients who are not well enough to be sat up in front of their television where the equipment is installed is limited. However, there are a variety of technologies available, mobile laptops are available and newer equipment may help to solve this problem.
“There are also areas across the district where internet connectivity is not
great – we hope this will improve when access to 4G becomes available.
“I was sceptical at first when we started to pilot the service, but I have come to see its real benefits. As time moves on I do think it will become the norm.”
Other healthcare professionals visiting patients can also use the telemedicine service to get expertise from the Manorlands team.
Helen Livingstone, consultant for palliative care with both Manorlands and Airedale Hospital, said: “Telemedicine helps us to care for patients where they want to be –
which is usually home. It will also be helpful for care home staff who may need advice and support to help their residents who are approaching the end of life to die peacefully where they have chosen to be cared for.”