More care homes test webcam service to ease A&E burden

Manager Beverley Hanson and resident Dorothy Wood  at Cowlersley Court, Huddersfield.
Manager Beverley Hanson and resident Dorothy Wood at Cowlersley Court, Huddersfield.
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frail people in 18 care homes in Yorkshire are becoming the latest to be linked to a round-the-clock telemedicine service designed to reduce pressures on hospitals.

The trial, funded by the NHS in Calderdale and Huddersfield, gives them access to urgent medical help from specialist nurses or hospital consultants using a secure video link.

The homes are linked to a hub at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, near Keighley, which has extended its telemedicine service to about 200 nursing and residential homes this winter.

Care homes with the most hospital admissions have been chosen to pilot telemedicine for 12 months.

Dorothy Wood, 89, of Cowlersley Court in Huddersfield, is one of the residents to benefit from the new service.

Manager Beverley Hanson said: “It helps us to make sure that our residents don’t go into hospital unless it is absolutely necessary.

“We can contact a GP in the morning but they may not be able to visit until much later in the day. The telehealth hub team has access to patient files so contacting them not only provides an interim diagnosis and reassurance, it speeds up the process should a prescription, or in worst case scenario, a hospital admission be required. We have it connected all the time so that it’s ready to go when we need it.

“We take the laptop into the resident’s room where we consult with a clinical specialist via the webcam. So far, we have been able to use it for residents with chest problems to minor fits.

“Having telemedicine on hand has not only reduced hospital admissions, but it gives my staff that extra reassurance at times when they might need it, from a back-up specialist, unbiased team.”

Previous results from the Airedale hub have led to a 45 per cent decrease in hospital admissions from care homes, and a reduction in use of A&E by care homes of 69 per cent.