A new team is in post ready to launch a new £1.3million service which will focus solely on caring for frail elderly patients at Scunthorpe General Hospital.
Work has been advancing over the summer to recruit a new consultant and a multi-disciplinary team for FEAST – frail elderly assessment support team - which will provide a dedicated service for elderly patients.
The team is made up of health professionals from Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLaG), North Lincolnshire adult social care team and Rotherham and Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation (RDaSH).
The team will be based on ward 16 and 17 at the hospital. It will operate a chair-based unit where patients will receive a full comprehensive geriatric assessment. The medical reason for their admission will be dealt with and plan to expedite their discharge that same day will be put in place.
There will also be a short-term frailty assessment unit for those patients who need a short stay in hospital, typically between 48 to 72 hours, as well as inpatient beds for people needing to stay longer.
The team will be led by consultant for elderly medicine Dr Mark Delicata who has recently joined Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust from Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.
Dr Delicata, who hails from Malta, is no stranger to the Trust having worked at Scunthorpe hospital for a year in 2012 as part of his specialist training. Talking about why he has returned he said: “It is so friendly, I really enjoyed my training here, so when the job came up I jumped at it. It is exciting to be able to be at the forefront of a new service which will bring great benefits for the local elderly population. I am also excited to work with professionals who share my vision of high quality and compassionate care for older people.”
He said when the service becomes operational this year, older patients and their families and carers, will have rapid access to the dedicated team.
The benefits this will bring include reducing duplication, rapid access to a consultant and a dedicated team specialised in looking after the frail and elderly. Dr Delicata said: “Coming into hospital can be a scary experience for anyone, but it can be particularly daunting for older patients.
“Telling your story over and over again to different doctors, at different times, can also be very upsetting for people. The FEAST service will allow GPs to refer patients directly to the unit and I will be the first medical doctor they tell that story to.”
The team has recently completed a three-day trial which has shown that it will help to reduce unnecessary prolonged admissions to hospital, reduce length of stay in hospital, reduce delays, ensure timely and appropriate transfers of care to either a specialist acute elderly environment, or an alternative community setting when required and provide a high-quality seamless package of care for patients.
Dr Delicata: “Our vision is to provide high quality care to our patients and to treat them in the same way as we would like our relatives to be treated should they require hospital care. Our aim is to treat people in the right place at the right time and wherever possible discharge them from hospital on the same day of admission if clinically appropriate. If they do need a short stay in hospital, we will ensure they are discharged in a timely and effective manner.”
Other team members include: advanced nurse practitioners, staff nurses, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, nurse consultant in mental health, social workers and a discharge coordinator.
Dr Hardik Gandhi, a local GP and member of North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) who has been involved in developing FEAST, said early indications showed the team would make a positive difference, ensuring elderly and frail people were getting the care they needed in the most appropriate place for them.
He said: “Great health and social care isn’t a one-size fits everyone solution. This team, transforming local care as part of the ongoing Healthy Lives Healthy Futures programme, is about putting the person back into the centre and making sure they are getting the right care, in exactly the right place for their needs.”
Councillor Julie Reed, cabinet member for adult services at North Lincolnshire Council, said: “We are very happy to see this investment that puts people at the centre of what we do and improves the experience of hospital care for our elderly residents. Our hospital-based social work team will be on hand to support patients and their carers return home, and to independence as soon as possible with the right support, at the right time in the right place.”
This is just one of a number of initiatives that is being undertaken as part of the Healthy Lives, Healthy Futures programme of change in North and North East Lincolnshire which aims to deliver better and more efficient health and wellbeing services to people. It 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.
Patients will only be referred to the FEAST service 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.
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.