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Rapid response teams to help older people at home

Health bosses have outlined plans to create ‘expert rapid response teams’ to help support older people and those with complex needs to remain well at home and avoid hospital admissions.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the teams will respond within two hours, giving those who need it fast access to a range of qualified professionals who can address both their health and social care needs, including physiotherapy and occupational therapy, medication prescribing and reviews, and help with staying well-fed and hydrated.

The spokesman said local health service and council teams will begin the rollout of Urgent Community Response teams from April with the ambition that at least three areas will be fully up and running by next winter.

The £14m-service will be available from seven ‘accelerator’ sites initially, they are:

  • Warrington Together (Cheshire and Merseyside STP);
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (Kirklees);
  • Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland system;
  • Cornwall system;
  • Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire system;
  • South East London system; and
  • Norfolk and Waveney system

Areas across England can expect to receive funding to begin working to the new standards from 2021, with an aim to covering every part of the country by April 2023.

Teams will also be responsible for putting tailored packages of intermediate care, or reablement services in place for individuals in their own homes, with the aim of restoring independence and confidence after a hospital stay.

Helen Childs, chief operating officer at NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, said: ‘Locally, one in four people are over the age of 65; and we know that historically we haven’t always provided them with the best outcome because we weren’t able to provide rapid, timely access to short term community services. Today’s announcement will allow us to accelerate our plans to support older people at home.

‘This will be better for our patients, their families and also means that hospital beds are available as soon as possible for the people who need these very specialist services and expertise.’

A spokesman for DHSC said studies show that services provided by teams made up of a range of professionals such as nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers and social care staff are highly effective in helping people regain or maintain their independence.

As well as being better for the individuals involved, it’s more cost-effective for the NHS than providing care in hospital, and also means beds can be made available more quickly for patients who need them.

Andrew Ridley, chair of the Community Network, welcomed the announcement but said it will be a ‘massive challenge’:

‘There is understandable concern about the pressure on A and E departments but part of the reason why there is so much pressure in hospitals is because there is not the resource to manage emergency demand within the community care sector.

‘This announcement is a welcome first step towards supporting patients in the community with emergency help in two hours and making sure they receive services to help them back to independence with two days.
‘Achieving this across England will be a massive challenge, but with resources, our members providing community services can achieve this with support from social care, family doctors and others in the community.’
Photo Credit – Pixabay
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