An Isle of Wight Council social care practitioner working on the frontline to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions, has been singled out for praise by the healthcare watchdog.
Christine Cuthbert has made a positive impact since joining the busy emergency department and medical assessment unit (MAU) at St Mary’s Hospital, enabling more people to return home quicker with the care and support they need.
This innovative approach to social care at the sharp end of the NHS was this week cited as an example of national best practice by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Christine, who has been based at the Newport hospital since January, said: “Working in the emergency department and MAU has had a huge impact.
“By being involved at an early stage in a patient’s care, I can provide personalised support and lay the necessary foundations to ensure they can return home at the earliest opportunity, avoiding the need for a hospital admission.
“I’m able to provide support to them, and their families, at a time when they need it.”
Christine works as part of a multidisciplinary team which also includes physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses and doctors.
Her aim is to support people, wherever possible, to be able to leave hospital and live at home.
Her tasks involve completing assessments, mental capacity and best interest assessments, as well as constructing care plans and packages to meet the needs of service users and carers.
And the results speak for themselves.
Of the 120 patients Christine supported between January and April, 81 (67.5 per cent) were able to return home quickly, avoiding the need for a precious hospital bed.
Not only that, her role has led to the ‘gain’ of one full-time nurse who can spend their time caring for patients.
Councillor Clare Mosdell, the council’s Cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said: “As a health and care system, the council, the Isle of Wight NHS Trust and the Clinical Commissioning Group have been focused as one on doing all we can to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.
“I know our trust colleagues have been delighted with the positive impact that having a social care practitioner permanently based in accident and emergency and the MAU has had on getting people straight home after they have been attended to by the clinicians in those two areas of the hospital.”
Christine’s work has been highlighted as part of a series of case studies published by the CQC showcasing what providers have done to take a flexible approach to staffing.
This collaboration between the local authority and the NHS is another example of the benefits of the Island’s ambitious One Public Service programme, currently being developed to meet the continuing needs of Islanders and achieve customer-focused public services that are truly coordinated.
Maggie Oldham, chief executive of Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said: “Working more closely with our colleagues in social care, primary care and the voluntary sector isn’t just common sense, it is better for the people we look after.
“I’m really pleased that the staff involved in this excellent work have been recognised by the CQC — their hard work is really benefiting our community.
“We are totally committed to improving the services we provide and will keep working side by side with the council and our other partners to deliver the best possible care.”