Nursing Opinion

Rapid Response teams to help the elderly

Ann Taylor, CEO, Hilton Nursing Partners

The recent news of the launch of community based ‘Rapid Response’ teams to help the elderly, and people with complex health needs, avoid hospital is very welcome.

NHS and healthcare professionals are inundated daily with patients who really don’t need to be there, and worse case, can end up as hospital admissions only to become a ‘bed-blocking’ statistic.

Avoiding this altogether seems like a big job, but nevertheless the commitment is there to ensure a sufficient community response.

I’m guessing the finer details of which have yet to be confirmed, but in principal keeping people without critical healthcare needs away from A&E departments has got to be a priority for the already strained National Health Service.

The announcement that a rapid response team should be with an individual within two hours is incredibly ambitious. However the time taken to attend will certainly be much shorter than the time it can take to discharge an individual from a hospital ward who shouldn’t be there.

My initial thoughts are how the points of referral would work, how would a potential patient avoid the urge to call or visit their local hospital? We have to remember the whole point must be to prevent a hospital visit, not use the hospital as the referrer, as is the case currently.

Already our tried and tasted models of care work hand-in-hand with some of the countries NHS Trusts and local councils to relive the pressures on hospitals and healthcare professionals by working on swift discharges back into the patient’s home.

Being able to support vulnerable individuals before they enter the hospital system would be ideal. As they say, prevention is always better than the cure, and we are only too aware of the debilitating affects a lengthy hospital stay can have on an individual, especially an elderly individual.

Positive intervention is something we would always recommend. We are very active in positive intervention through our Assess to Discharge, Home to Decide and Stay at Home to Decide services. These services support people who have spent unnecessary days or weeks in an acute hospital and as a result have become ‘de-conditioned’ and are leaving hospital with a loss of confidence in their ability to recover well if at all.

Let’s say for the sake of an example you have an elderly neighbour who has fallen in their home. Unless there has been a critical injury, such as a broken bone, that individual probably doesn’t need a hospital visit. Rather a visit from a community based organisation such as ours to intervene, be on hand, and care to recovery before that person is lost in a system under pressure.

We know from experience in working with fragile older people and dementia patients that they respond much better to healthcare support and treatment in their own homes.

Working within a multi disciplinary team with other healthcare professionals, Hilton support people to remain at home whilst being treated by their GP, and district nurses, recovery is always much quicker and much more positive.

As a direct result of the success of our Home to Decide care model we are already working with local authorities and the NHS to develop a ‘stay at home to decide’ service. You could say we are we are ahead of this announcement, and in many ways prepared to meet the NHS ‘Rapid Response’ development.

Watch this space!


Edel Harris





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