Work underway to develop services for frail and elderly Isle patients

Councillor Rob Waltham
Councillor Rob Waltham

A £1.3million investment will see the creation of a new multi-disciplinary team which will focus solely on frail elderly patients being cared for at Scunthorpe General Hospital.

The team will be made up of staff from Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLaG), North Lincolnshire Adult Social Care and Rotherham and Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation (RDaSH). The new service is being funded through the Government’s Better Care Fund and is being commissioned jointly by North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (NLCCG) and North Lincolnshire Council.

FEAST – frail elderly assessment support team – will be located at Scunthorpe hospital and will operate between 8am and 10pm seven days a week providing a multi-disciplinary service for elderly patients. It is expected the team will be fully operational from the autumn but some aspects of the new approach are already being put in place.

Work is underway to recruit staff and there will be some building works in the ward 16 and 17 area. The team will be led by a consultant with a special interest in elderly care supported by three advanced nurse practitioners and nursing staff, physiotherapist, occupational therapist and therapy support staff, mental health practitioners, social workers and a discharge coordinator.

Karen Fanthorpe, deputy chief operating officer at NLaG, said: “This is exciting news for frail and elderly patients, and their families and carers, as they will have rapid access to a dedicated multi-disciplinary team of staff.

“The aim is to keep people out of hospital if clinically appropriate. If they do need admitting, the team will ensure they are discharged in a timely and effective manner. It will help to prevent unnecessary admissions, and ensure timely and appropriate transfers of care to either a specialist acute elderly care environment, or an alternative community setting when required.”

Dr Hardik Ghandi, a local GP who has been involved in developing FEAST, said once in place the new multi-disciplinary team would ensure elderly and frail people had access to the care they needed in a single location.

“Telling your story over and over again to different clinicians, at different times, can be distressing,” said Dr Ghandi. “Having to go to hospital can be overwhelming in itself, especially for the elderly or frail. Having a team of experts working together, including mental health practitioners, will help alleviate some of this stress and make sure all aspects of each patient’s wellbeing are taken care of. “

Patients will only be referred to FEAST if they meet the Bournemouth criteria which includes: those over the age of 90; aged over 65 years from a nursing or residential home or community hospital; aged over 75 from home with two or more pre-existing conditions; acute confusion; history of falls; incontinence; reduced mobility or dementia.

The team will operate a chair-based unit where patients will receive a full comprehensive geriatric assessment without the need to be admitted to hospital.

A new short-term frailty assessment unit will also be created for those patients who need a short stay, typically between 48 to 72 hours.

Rob Waltham (pictured), chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “This new dedicated service will help ensure that older residents have access to the right care and attention to best suit their needs. Being admitted to hospital is not always the answer and can be more stressful for the patient. Following the initial assessment, the patient may be better off with a different type of care.

“By working together with all the professional health and care agencies, we can make sure that we deliver an excellent service to older residents, one that helps reduce unnecessary waiting times and better meets their needs.”

The launch of FEAST follows a successful pilot which showed having a dedicated team reduced admissions, reduced delays and provided a high-quality seamless package of care for patients.

Patients will be referred into FEAST by the hospital’s emergency care centre (A&E), East Midlands Ambulance Service, GPs or community matrons/emergency care practitioners