Minister of Health praises acute home care service for the elderly

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Health Minister Robin Swann has praised the team behind an innovative, award-winning service providing healthcare to vulnerable elderly patients in care homes and in their own homes.

Dr Patricia McCaffrey, Divisional Medical Director/Aged Care, Minister of Health Robin Swann and Brian Beattie, Acting Director of Aged and Primary Care Services

The Southern Trust’s Acute Care at Home service was the first service of its kind in Northern Ireland. It is run by consultant geriatricians and includes specialist doctors and nurses, caring nurses, health auxiliaries, pharmacists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and works closely with many other community services.

The team has the same access to diagnostic and laboratory services as in a hospital setting and can treat patients over the age of 65 with a wide range of acute illnesses in nursing and care homes or in the homes of patients. They also use mobile diagnostic equipment to perform scans, perform blood tests or arrange other investigations and treat various conditions such as lung infections, pneumonia or dehydration.

The Minister met the team responsible for providing the service during a visit to Lurgan Hospital. He said: ‘The excellent Southern Trust Acute Home Care Service provides care that is practical, efficient and responsive to patient needs. It is very effective in helping to reduce the need for hospital admission and keeping patients as independent as possible.

“One of my top priorities is to support, stabilize and standardize community services through a new regional model of intermediate care. This is currently the subject of consultations as part of the Emergency and Urgent Care Review.

“I heard clearly from service users and caregivers that ‘home’ is where they want to be cared for. The aim is therefore to create better services for the future and to improve intermediate care services to ensure that people are supported to lead the best life. possible.”

The acute care home service has grown in the Southern Trust area since its inception as a pilot project in 2014. At the Health Service Journal Patient Safety Awards in 2021, the acute care team at home won the “Patient Deterioration and Speed ​​Response Initiative of the Year Award”.

The service’s senior consultant geriatrician, Dr Patricia McCaffrey of Southern Trust, said: ‘A hospital admission can be traumatic and disruptive for anyone, but particularly for an older person who may be less mobile or people with dementia. Through the Acute Home Care service, we are transforming the way we provide unscheduled care to our growing number of older service users who live with more complex needs. We hope that by providing high quality care in their own home environment, we will promote a better quality of life for our elderly population, avoiding more stressful admissions to our busy acute hospitals when it is safe to do so.

While in Lurgan, the Minister joined in the Platinum Jubilee celebrations at PALMS Day Care Centre, a community facility for the elderly covering the greater Lurgan area. It was established over 25 years ago by the Shankill Parish Caring Association and is based at the Jethro Centre.

The Minister had the honor of cutting the Jubilee cake. He said, “I am thrilled to once again be able to attend such events in person and meet people who are truly at the heart of everything my ministry strives to achieve.

“I would like to commend the staff and volunteers who work at the center for their hard work and determination throughout the pandemic. Across Northern Ireland, in the most difficult times, our carers have been there for people and we owe them a debt of gratitude. I know they will continue to be there for the people they support as we move into more normal times.

Andrew Dunlop, Director of the Jethro Centre, said: “PALMs Day Center is an integral part of the wider community offering offered here at the Jethro Centre. We are especially proud to have provided social opportunities and activities for some of the most vulnerable. in our company for more than 25 years through PALMs. On behalf of the Trustees of Shankill Parish Caring Association, I am delighted to welcome the Minister to our celebratory tea and see first hand the difference the day center services make for clients and their families. ”

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