Innovative new service brings special care into Suffolk's homes
16 March 2009
Thousands of Suffolk patients with respiratory problems are to receive specially targeted care in their own homes, in turn significantly reducing the need for them to be admitted into hospital.
The news comes after West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust won a ground-breaking three-year contract to provide an innovative new service to 8,000 patients across the county who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
The service, called the Suffolk ART service, is being gradually phased following its launch in February. It will see a specialist team skilled in the care of COPD patients work alongside GPs and community matrons to provide care in the most appropriate setting for each individual. This can include at hospital, in people's homes or within the community.
The patient-focused service, has been awarded to the trust because of its expertise in treating people with COPD, will help prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and change the emphasis for care provision from an acute to a community setting.
West Suffolk will be working with colleagues at Ipswich Hospital to deliver the service, ensuring that patients across the whole county receive consistent and dedicated care.
"This ground-breaking service has been designed to provide patients throughout Suffolk with expert, tailored care in the most appropriate setting for their needs," said Nichole Day, executive chief nurse at the trust.
"This new model of care will allow more patients to receive high quality treatment in their own homes, which evidence shows can help their recovery while also reducing hospital admissions. Our specialist team will also be on hand to support patients who do need to be admitted, helping to keep hospital stays as short as possible.
"We have been working to establish new care pathways for some time, and winning this tender supports that strategy. While we will continue to be a local hospital, we will also be delivering an integrated service which promotes a seamless provision of hospital and out-of-hospital care.
"We will be exploring further opportunities to develop other similar pathways in the future, as they are proven to be of great benefit to patients."
As part of the extensive package of care on offer, the specialist respiratory nurses will travel to people's homes to assess their clinical condition, deliver oxygen direct to patients as and when needed and hold rehabilitation courses in community settings, such as leisure facilities, gyms and village halls.
Patients who are treated in their own homes will receive daily visits for a short period of time from the nurse-led team, while robust clinical supervision by doctors will ensure anyone who does need hospital treatment is admitted as soon as possible.
"The new model of care will help to decrease the feeling of isolation which some patients may suffer by encouraging them to become more independent," said nurse consultant Linda Pearce, who was awarded a doctorate by the University of Essex in March 2008 for her work on helping patients with COPD.
"We will also be offering rehabilitation courses, which will help improve people's mobility and increase their tolerance to exercise while also bringing them together to share their experiences and offer each other mutual support.
"We are delighted to have won this contract, especially as the trust has a proven track record in providing high quality treatment to patients with COPD. Winning the tender also pays tribute to the dedication we show to training and supervising our staff."
Tracy Dowling, director of strategic commissioning at NHS Suffolk, said: "This is an exciting development which heralds the start of real improvements in the service provided to people with COPD across Suffolk.
"The new service will focus on helping patients to stay well and successfully manage their condition in the most appropriate setting for their individual needs, which in turn will reduce admissions into hospital."