A successful recruitment drive for new support workers is enabling Guernsey’s Health and Social Care (HSC) Reablement Service to extend its hours to 8.30am to 8pm, seven days a week.
The multidisciplinary team, which includes occupational therapists, physios, social workers and nurses, plays a key role in the hospital discharge process by helping those patients that no longer need hospital care but do need varying levels of support to readjust to living back at home.
Without access to the service, such patients may end up staying in hospital longer than necessary, impacting on overall hospital capacity.
Elaine Burgess, Associate Director of HSC’s Acute Services, said: “With our ongoing efforts to reduce hospital bed stays we are delighted to see the Reablement Service able to increase it’s great work. The hospital is regularly teetering on capacity which will be an ongoing issue until our hospital modernisation is complete. Pressure on beds will only get worse over winter so this couldn’t come at a better time.”
But beyond protecting hospital capacity she said the Reablement Service is ultimately about ensuring what is best for the individuals. “Prolonged stays in hospital can be unnecessarily detrimental to your health due to sleep deprivation, increased risk of falls or infection among many other things. So the aim is always to discharge people as soon as they no longer require acute care.”
The Reablement Service was granted additional headcount through its proven track record to deliver positive patient outcomes through the combination of a timely discharge back home followed by up to six weeks of tailored support to them living at home.
Having previously only run until 4pm daily, the extended hours is enabling the service to support more complex patients.
Nicola Cross, an occupational therapist and co-lead of the Reablement Service, added that for those inpatients that can still live unassisted, every day in hospital is a precious day away from home. “We want to embed a ‘home first’ mind set, and that is what the Reablement Service is all about – in some cases it is down to a lack of confidence by individuals that they will be able to look after themselves at home, in others a few short-term interventions may be required.
“In hospital everything is done for you and it is easy to get comfortable with that and get out of the mindset of fending for yourself. We give people that helping hand to realise they can cope at home and have a far better quality of life as a result.”
Based out of the Castel Hospital site, the Reablement team provides a tailored service to each individual to help them regain their independence.
Physiotherapist David Cook, who leads the team alongside Nicola said “The Reablement philosophy is not about the provision of care. Patients are encouraged to participate in their own care and undertake functional tasks to maximise their independence and quality of life.”
The service is delivered by the support workers who are themselves supported by an occupational therapist and physiotherapist to complete assessments, provide exercises, organise short-term loans of equipment, guide the future purchase of aids, and advise on adaptations to the home environment. They also reach out to relatives and relevant support networks to assist their on-going management at home. The Reablement team can also
facilitate onward referral to community services as agreed.
The service aligns with the overall aims of the Partnership of Purpose, which is an ongoing initiative to transform the provision of health and social care services locally to cope with an ageing population.
Nicola said: “The Partnership of Purpose aims to keep everyone healthier longer, while also providing access to the right care at the right time when islanders need it. The role we play is to help people living happily at home as long as they can.”