Eliza Griffiths_FAA.jpeg

Trust Frailty Service receives national recognition

South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust’s (SWFT) integrated Frailty Service, incorporating hospital and community services, has been awarded the ‘Health Tech Case Study of the Year’ for transforming Frailty and Elderly Care in the Health Tech News (HTN) Now Awards 2023/24.

The collaborative team, who continually demonstrate remarkable commitment in addressing the complex healthcare needs of frail individuals in our community, has received this recognition alongside Consultant Connect, a UK-founded telemedicine provider.

Attending hospital can be physically and mentally exhausting for a person who is frail, with research highlighting being cared for in a home environment has improved long-term wellbeing outcomes. Therefore, the Trust’s service joined forces with Consultant Connect to support frail adults in crisis to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

Consultant Connect’s technology enables local teams (paramedics, General Practitioners (GPs) and Advanced Clinical Practitioners (ACPs)) to talk to a SWFT consultant within 25 seconds (average connection time) and discuss the next most appropriate steps for a patient’s care. If a hospital admission is not appropriate, a patient will be seen in their home environment and then managed on a virtual ward. Virtual wards (also known as hospital at home) allow patients to get the care they need at home safely and conveniently, rather than being in hospital. This ensures frailty patients receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

To date:

  • 66 percent of calls from GPs and other primary care services to the Trust’s Frailty Service result in a hospital attendance being avoided.
  • 78 percent of calls from West Midlands Ambulance Service result in an unnecessary Emergency Department attendance being avoided.
  • Using Consultant Connect’s technology, all patients over 75 at the Trust receive follow up calls after being discharged from hospital. This scheme has reduced re-attendances from 15 percent to 8 percent.
  • Due to early contact with a senior clinical member of the Trust, frailty patients who do need to receive care in hospital can be admitted straight to the Frailty Assessment Area (FAA), bypassing the Emergency Department and ensuring patients receive the right care quicker. This improves access to same day emergency care, meaning patients are home the same day. This assists with recovery and long-term wellbeing. 40 percentage of those requiring same day care are discharged home the same day.
  • Using Consultant Connect technology, the Frailty Service has also launched a new Patient Initiated Follow-Up (PIFU) line for two of their wards. This allows recently discharged long-term patients to call into the wards 24/7. 80 percent of those calls result in an ACP visiting the patient in their home environment, removing the need for them to take themselves to the Emergency Department.

Going forward, SWFT’s Frailty Team are keen to further develop their service by utilising available technology. They are proactively evolving the use of Consultant Connect and utilising technology to enable:

  • Frailty nurses in the community to easily communicate with the hospital frailty team.
  • Encouraging Trust consultants to use the technology for internal referrals.
  • Using written advice and guidance referrals through the Consultant Connect’s messaging feature.
  • Expanding the technology within the Trust to incorporate other care specialists and enable Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Hospital to Home, a transport and wellbeing service, to easily connect with SWFT clinicians.

Eliza Griffiths, Consultant at South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are extremely pleased to receive this award and for our dedication to ensure patients are cared for in the right place first time to be recognised in this way.

“The experience of coming into hospital, especially for elderly or frail patients, can be extremely draining. Even individuals in good general health may exhibit signs of deconditioning during a hospital stay. Therefore, our Frailty Service aims, where medically appropriate, to prevent this strain by seeing patients in their own home.

“By providing care and conducting assessments in a patient‘s own environment, we can prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and assist a patient to recover better - improving their long-term wellbeing.

“Consultant Connect, alongside other innovations we have implemented, enables us to deliver hospital level care in a patient’s home. The technology allows experienced clinicians to communicate with ease, whilst assessments are conducted in the patient's home, ensuring patients get the right care in the right place at the right time.”

The HTN Now Awards share and celebrate innovations, teams and health tech suppliers that have made a positive difference to patient care.

The full list of HTN Now 2023/24 winners can be found at https://htn.co.uk/2024/01/24/htn-now-awards-2023-2...

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