Providing therapy for elderly patients in hospital wards over weekends has significantly improved patient care, reduced patient’s time in hospital and been welcomed by staff, according to latest trials across North West London.
The trials, which saw existing therapists and consultants change their working patterns to provide an enhanced seven day service, took place in hospitals across North West London. The aim was to test new ways of working to improve patient care.
The results of the trials showed:
- Patients reported being less anxious as therapists and consultants were available at the weekend
- up to 16 per cent reduction in the average time spent in a hospital bed
- up to 14 per cent reduction in patients returning to hospital once home
- up to 25 per cent reduction in patients that were fit to go home but remained in hospital over the weekend due to lack of staff.
National evidence shows that patients who get home as soon as they no longer need hospital care recover better, and are less likely to go back into hospital. Also, elderly patients are less likely to catch an infection, fall or get pressure ulcers at home than in hospital.
Elizabeth Wordsworth, Therapy Executive Lead for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: “Reducing the amount of time patients spend in hospital improves their recovery, especially when they don’t need to be there. Elderly patients can deteriorate rapidly if they don’t receive regular input from therapists.”
Therapists and consultants were keen to take part in the trial schemes to help extend the good practices currently offered five days a week. Therapists found that offering a seven day service removed the traditional Monday morning backlog of work, as patients received the support they required when they needed it, without having to wait for Monday. In removing the catch-up period at the start of the week, therapists were able to spend more time with patients every day of the week. Patient care could also be better planned as there was more staff available to offer support throughout the full week.
Dr Louise McCusker, Consultant Geriatrician, for The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The main impact on improving patient care for the elderly seven day services is definitely from having more therapists available at the weekend. Taking part in the pilots was a positive move and we would welcome being able to work this way full-time”.
North West London’s NHS has been designated as a national first wave delivery site for seven day services, committed to achieving national priority clinical standards in 2017. A second round of the pilots will start in the summer to further test ways of delivering seven day services and focus on driving behavioural changes in the NHS.