Eastern AHSN worked with trusts, providers and commissioners across the region to showcase innovative frailty projects at the Midlands and East Frailty Conference on 27 March.
The conference took place in Leicester, with the aim of bringing together key stakeholders to discuss national strategic plans for people living with or at risk of developing frailty. It presented an excellent opportunity to identify regional variation – supporting connections and sharing best practice for managing frailty.
Eastern AHSN showcased some of the excellent frailty projects from our region, and facilitated a break out session in the afternoon designed to help STPs from the eastern region identify problems, share knowledge to design potential solutions and action plans to manage frailty.
Together with West Midlands and East Midlands AHSNs, we produced a guide to frailty innovation projects supported by AHSNs and their hosted PSCs within the Midlands and East. Projects from the eastern region included:
- Docobo CarePortal – remote monitoring into care homes: Eastern AHSN worked with a clinical team to introduce remote monitoring into care homes and for high intensity home users. The project centred on supporting high intensity patients sending their routine observations through a device called CarePortal. The regular submission of data allows healthcare professionals better oversight of day to day needs and supports more appropriate escalation, instead of waiting for signs of deterioration to consider an emergency admission. The project delivered improvements to care through mobilisation and training, patient recruitment, monitoring activity and impact on professional workloads and reviewing lessons learnt.
- Digital health literacy: A primary care federation within the Eastern AHSN region has been working on innovative ways to improve digital health literacy for their community seeking support over the web. The project aims to encourage community groups to better engage with innovation such as virtual appointments, advice and guidance and accessing health information online. A local digital engagement officer was recruited who spent time with various patient and community groups to both identify what their digital health priorities were and to provide hands on support to training and development. The officer worked with pre-existing patient and community groups and ensured the support offered was tailored to specific audiences. As part of this work, there has been enhanced working relationships with groups such as the University of the Third Age and other local community organisations to ensure that online information is accessible to groups such as the frail or elderly and other groups who are least likely to actively use digital health services.
- Multidisciplinary medication safety network: The Eastern Patient Safety Collaborative (PSC) has created a sustainable multidisciplinary medication safety subgroup (the Medication Safety in Older People Network) for the region. Voluntary members include health and social care professionals from various settings, non-healthcare professionals with an interest in medication safety, patient and carer representatives. The network is for health and social care professionals working to improve medication safety, especially in older people and frailty. This also includes patients and carers and cuts across sectors and disciplines. Members contribute to workshops and training activities to share best practice and ideas for innovation.
- Cambridgeshire Hearing Help: This year, Eastern AHSN is supporting a community project which uses experts by experience to help educate individuals concerned about or diagnosed with hearing loss, and their communication partner affected. Participants will self-refer into psycho-educational workshops, be referred by their GP or the hospital audiology department. The sessions will provide information about hearing aids, techniques to deal with hearing loss and discuss available technology. Peer support, advice and guidance are also key elements and participants will be empowered to make informed decisions regarding their conditions and the support aids available to them.
- Reducing falls in care homes – Eastern PSC project: Eastern AHSN supported NHS and social care partners to adopt the Falls Assessment Tool for Care Homes (adapted from a tool produced by NHS Lanarkshire). This simple and easy assessment tool includes a clear pathway to prevent, respond to and review falls and was implemented to standardise falls assessments, to reduce the risk of residents falling and requiring urgent admission to hospital. Ten care homes with the highest emergency call rates were selected to introduce the tool, which was provided alongside training and education for carers. Walking frames and sticks with traffic light colour coding were adopted by the acute trust and local care homes to quickly identify residents at risk of falls. A ‘Pimp up my Zimmer’ competition in care homes secured local media coverage and raised awareness of falls prevention. The project team worked with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust to monitor emergency calls and conveyance rates due to falls, as well as collecting qualitative data from falls therapists to measure the effectiveness of the new assessment tool.
- Urgent call communication checklist – Eastern PSC project: Use of the Urgent Call Communication Checklist ensures care home staff make urgent calls appropriately and can deliver accurate information, to support timely and informed decisions in urgent situations by call handlers and healthcare professionals. The project aimed to reduce the volume of 999 calls and improve staff confidence in handling urgent situations, enhancing communication of decisions.
- Supporting family carers – Eastern PSC project: The hospital team has developed a process to identify family carers, improve family carer satisfaction and increase referrals to the Suffolk Family Carers (SFC) team. The SFC team trains nurses on the ward to support family carers and refer them, ensuring that they have patient record access, and a family carer ‘Agreement of Care’ in place. The Trust’s Carers’ Survey is being updated to support improved monthly data collection and the team are training a healthcare assistant who has volunteered as a family carer champion for the ward.
- Exercise: Educate: Empower – Eastern PSC project: The project aimed to ensure all patients admitted to Lavenham and the Surgical Assessment Unit are assessed and have personal daily functional goals set within the first 72 hours of admission. This promotes appropriate activity during their stay and reduces the risk of deconditioning in patients with frailty indicators. Patients are supported to achieve daily goals and improve their confidence to mobilise.
For more information on these projects, click below to view the full booklet: