Extra support for older patients leaving hospital

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Elderly and vulnerable patients at two Yorkshire hospitals will be given extra support after they were awarded funding from a £1.2m Government pot designed to reduce A&E admissions and help support older people in their homes.

Home from Hospital schemes at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Hull Royal Infirmary have each received additional funding for a 12-week programme which will see volunteers support older patients as they are discharged from hospital.

The Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), which is running the Huddersfield project with Age UK said the £50,000 it received will allow it to help more than 450 older patients and help ease the strain on hospital resources.

There, 25 additional volunteers will be trained to work alongside clinical staff both in the hospital and in the local community.

Across the country, the Government has provided £1.2m to 29 volunteering schemes ran by the British Red Cross, Age UK, and RVS intended to reduce delayed discharge and ensure older people are being looked after they leave the hospital.

The Hull scheme, which the British Red Cross will lead, has received £42,000. Volunteers will help to transport patients home, and assist them in settling back into life at home, including helping with shopping, collecting prescriptions, offering emotional support and helping them to regain their independence.

Similar Home from Hospital scheme already exist elsewhere in the region, including in Leeds and North Yorkshire.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross said: “We believe the voluntary sector has an important role to play in easing pressure on NHS services and helping older, vulnerable patients regain skills and confidence to live independently in their own homes.

“We have decades of experience in health and social care work and this 12-week trial will further demonstrate the value we can bring in building people’s resilience to crisis, increasing patient flow through the system, and reducing the burden on hospitals. We hope this trial will lead to further investment in, and partnership with, the third sector so we can help even more people to live independently.”

Chief operating officer at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust Jacqueline Myers, said: “Like many other hospitals across the country, our wards and our Emergency Department have been experiencing a significant amount of pressure in recent months. What we have been seeing, however, is not necessarily an increase in the number of people coming to hospital, but more people coming through with multiple or complex illnesses which mean they are more likely to need care or support packages when they leave hospital.

“It’s in our patients’ best interests, and it’s vital for the smooth running of our services, that people who are medically fit are able to be discharged from hospital as soon as possible and continue their recovery at home.”

The RVS locality manager in Huddersfield, Fazila Aswat said the funding would improve the wellbeing of older people.

She said: “We know that the emotional and practical support our trained volunteers provide can aid the recovery of older patients, reducing delayed discharge and easing the pressure faced by busy A&E departments.

“The volunteers continued support of older people after discharge will continue the hard work of clinical teams, help to detect any deterioration quickly so that we can avoid re-admittance and further reduce the strain on our hospital services.”

Sajid Azeb, assistant divisional director at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust said volunteers working on the Home for Hospital scheme ensured that some of the hospital’s “most vulnerable and elderly patients” were safely discharged and are provided with the right care in their own home.

“This helps to free up beds for future patients whilst continuing to put patient safety first,” he said.

Health Minister Lord Howe said: “The NHS has worked with expert charities including Age UK, British Red Cross and the Royal Voluntary Service for decades to make sure patients get specialist extra support when they most need it. Around 700 volunteers will help mostly older patients once they leave hospital as part of this £1.2m project, which is on top of the record £700m that the Government has provided for 700 more doctors, 4,500 more nurses and 5,000 more beds.

The Yorkshire Post is encouraging its readers to volunteer for support services as part of its Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign. Loneliness can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day

Anyone interested in the Huddersfield project can call Fiona Gallagher, service manager on 01484 453679 or 07736 825 324.