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Frailty cars transform elderly patient care in the comfort of their own homes

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has partnered with South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), West Hampshire CCG, Hampshire County Council, New Forest GP practices and League of Friends at Hythe Hospital and Milford on Sea to provide frailty cars that will enable health professionals to deliver care to frail elderly patients, living in the New Forest, in the comfort of their own home.

Since April this year, the team have had just under 800 patient referrals. Only 19% of these patients have needed a planned but urgent admission to hospital and the remaining 81% of them have received a high standard of care, diagnostics and treatment at home preventing them from being admitted to hospital. By treating patients at home, teams can spend more one to one time assessing the patient’s needs in an environment they feel safe and comfortable in and reduces the need to visit their GP or call emergency services for help. The Frailty Team work in partnership with patients to create personal care plans and as a result helping them better understand their health conditions.

Each car is staffed by an experienced SCAS Ambulance Technician contracted to work in partnership with the Southern Health. The cars are kitted with diagnostic equipment as well cardiac monitoring, defibrillator, lifting cushions and other emergency response equipment to enable responders to perform a thorough triage assessment.

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Mrs MacKay, from Fordingbridge in the New Forest, is a patient who has benefitted from this new service. Mrs Mackay was assessed by the Frailty Team who quickly identified she needed alternative respite care.

Chris MacKay, Mrs MacKay’s son commented, ‘The team were excellent. It was an emotional time for all the family and my mother was quite confused with the whole process but Gary and Steve from Southern Health’s Frailty Team were able to reassure and work alongside my mother to make her feel at ease. It was essential the team visited my mother, both at her home and at her care home, as she would not have been able to get to a GP or hospital appointment. Their response time was brilliant and immediately attended to my mother’s needs, she and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.’

Gregory Rowlinson, Frailty Ambulance Practitioner says, “The Frailty Cars enable us to visit patients in their homes which many find is a more comfortable and secure environment to be treated in. Home visits enable our teams to spend more personal and dedicated time with patients. We are then able to diagnose any potentially acutely unwell patients, provide medical intervention if needed and also further assessments and recommendations”.

Neil Cook, Head of Operations at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust commented, “This Frailty Support scheme is a really positive example of how NHS organisation can work together to improve the patient experience through supporting them with the appropriate treatment at source. The focus is for ambulance services to manage patients in the community or to direct them to the appropriate pathway of care, The Frailty Support cars combine clinicians and resources to facilitate and improve the patient journey.”

Professor Johnny Lyon-Maris, Locality Clinical Director and West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group Board GP adds, “The Frailty Support Team provide an essential service to patients, preventing on occasion their admission to hospital when care can be safely and appropriately given at home. This transport enhances the team’s ability to work most effectively for the patients and their practices.”

The League of Friends (from Hythe Hospital and Milford on Sea) are delighted to be helping to a fund a scheme that  is helping to transform the care delivered to frail and elderly patents in the New Forest.

John Carr, Chair of the League of Friends at Hythe Hospital says “We welcome the introduction of the new community based frailty car service. We are pleased to have been able to give financial support to this development, which will provide valuable and much needed clinical help to the local community”.

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