Helping hand for elderly patients in Norfolk
Sarah BrealeyElderly people are being helped to get back on their feet with a pioneering project at Norfolk's biggest hospital. The enablement project is designed to help patients look after themselves while they are in hospital and to send them home fitter and better able to cope.Sarah Brealey
By SARAH BREALEY
Elderly people are being helped to get back on their feet with a pioneering project at Norfolk's biggest hospital.
The enablement project is designed to help patients look after themselves while they are in hospital and to send them home fitter and better able to cope.
The project started on Elsing ward at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which is where the hospital's most frail elderly patients are looked after. Because of its success it is now being used across all four medicine-for-the-elderly wards. More people are able to go home rather than to a community hospital or nursing home. It is also reducing the time people need to stay in hospital, from 9.51 days to 8.86 days across the four wards - beating the original target of a 0.5 day reduction.
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Extra cash of �490,000 a year is paying for extra nursing and therapy, such as exercise sessions. The patients who are thought most likely to benefit will get more help. Being in hospital and being looked after around the clock can be a disorienting experience at the best of times, so patients are encouraged to do more things for themselves. There is also more planning for when they go home, with the patients and relatives being involved.
Jo Walmsley, operational manager for medicine for the elderly, said: "We wanted people to be able to return to their own home after being in hospital. Some patients will need to go on to a care home but we can still improve their experience, perhaps by doing activities at their bedside.
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"It is good for older people that this project is being given a lot of attention and is helping improve older people's care."
Physiotherapist Emma Botwright said: "The idea behind it is to help patients to remain as physically and mentally active as they can be in hospital. Rather than washing them we might help them walk across to the bathroom so they can wash themselves. It is about finding ways to achieve it themselves and become as independent as possible."
The project has brought different teams together, including nurses, dieticians, speech therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. At the N&N's staff awards in the autumn, the enablement project team won the chairman's award for team of the year, for their hard work together and the benefit they had brought to patients.