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New Red Cross service helps ease pressure on Musgrove Park Hospital wards - 06 September 2017

New Red Cross service helps ease pressure on Musgrove Park Hospital wards - 06 September 2017

An innovative new scheme implemented by the British Red Cross in partnership with Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton is helping to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions by bridging the gap between hospital and home.

In the first two months since its launch in May, the ‘Assisted Discharge and Admission Prevention’ service helped more than 86 people make a smooth transition back into their homes and day-to-day lives.

Mark Drew and Riccardo Navone, discharge support workers from the Red Cross, are based in the emergency department at Musgrove Park. It is their role to provide practical and emotional assistance to patients who are medically fit to return home but who could benefit from extra support. Mark and Riccardo provide the support which helps the patient return home and settle back into their normal routine quickly after a health crisis. The service also relieves pressure on hospital staff by freeing up resources.

Deborah Fisher OBE, director of independent living for the Red Cross, said: “Older people sometimes find it daunting to return to independence following an illness or an accident. Our team at Musgrove Park Hospital offer a bit of extra support to help them cope with that transition and at the same time free up much needed beds within the wards.”

Once a patient has been identified as medically fit to be discharged, Mark or Riccardo will step in to help by providing transport and making sure they are settled safely into their home.

Mark explained: “We’re seeing that our service is having a really positive effect on the older people we support by making sure they don’t go home to a cold, dark, empty house alone. We will prepare them a hot drink or perhaps a light meal, and carry out a basic home safety check to make sure they are warm and comfortable. Even just taking the time to chat can make someone feel much better about things.”

The team provide up to 72 hours of resettlement assistance, giving that extra support people need after they’ve been in hospital. This can include doing the shopping and collecting prescriptions or arranging a GP visit. These small interventions can often make the difference between being able to stay at home and having to go back into A&E.

Dr Peter Campbell, a consultant geriatrician and physician at Musgrove Park Hospital, was involved in developing the service in partnership with the Red Cross. He said:

“We are already seeing huge benefits for our patients who use this new service, and it is providing a real focus to help overcome the difficulties that frail older people sometimes face when they return home from hospital.

“The service is also benefiting clinicians at the hospital by assisting us to discharge patients when they are medically-fit to return home, which frees up beds for other patients. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Red Cross on this exciting new service.”

The service, which is funded by a generous legacy left to the Red Cross in Taunton, has been up and running since May and has already received positive feedback from hospital staff and service users.

Deborah Fisher continued: “Demand on health and social care services across the UK is mounting as more and more people live alone and with long-term health conditions. 

“Red Cross independent living services, including the service offered at Musgrove Park Hospital, are designed to support people with moderate health conditions before they escalate and get to the point where hospitalisation needed. We don’t think our services are the same as those delivered by nurses or social workers but we do believe that preventative services should be considered a vital part of the health and social care system.”