A dedicated assessment unit for older people has opened its doors at The James Cook University Hospital.
The rapid access frailty assessment (RAFA) unit aims to enable patients to be discharged more quickly, reducing unnecessary stays in hospital.
Patients will have their complex needs assessed by a range of specialists who are all based at the unit including an elderly care consultant, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychiatric liaison nurse and social worker.
A discharge plan will be established with a maximum stay on the unit of 72 hours to ensure patients get home or to the right place for their continued treatment as soon as possible.
Nurse practitioner Kelly Russell said: “It’s like a one stop MOT shop because our patients are getting everything in one place which speeds up the whole process.
“It’s about attending to their medical needs, getting them back home as quickly as possible and then working with community staff to arrange the right care for them closer to home.”
Based on ward 11, the RAFA unit is open 24/7 with consultant cover Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.The service will eventually be extended to 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
The unit currently accepts admissions from the hospital’s emergency department and acute assessment units but there are plans to accept direct referrals from other services including GPs, community matrons and the ambulance service in the future.
Physiotherapist Diane Pearey added: “Having a social worker based in the office has made a big difference because we have been able to get people home faster.”
Occupational therapist Tracy Horton added: “It works well especially when we can assess the patient at the same time which saves them having to answer the same questions over and over again.”
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is part of the Acute Frailty Network and has been selected as one of ten sites across the country to contribute to the development of services aimed at improving the acute care of older people.
Rachel Murdoch, consultant geriatrician said: “Our patients need a holistic approach to ensure that all their needs are assessed and managed from the time they arrive at hospital through to when they are ready to go home.”