Leicestershire leading the way with rapid NHS response teams to help people stay well at home

Accelerator Site image2Expert rapid response teams will be on hand within two hours to help keep older people well at home and avoid hospital admissions, under new plans outlined by the NHS today.

Local health and care teams will begin the roll out of Urgent Community Response teams from April, as part of the NHS’ Long Term Plan to support England’s ageing population and those with complex needs.

Backed by £14m of investment, seven ‘accelerator’ sites will bring together local health and social care organisations to standardise how urgent community services will be measured, and delivered consistently across the country, 365 days a year.  

Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) has been selected as one of the seven national ‘accelerator’ sites.

Whilst the amount to be awarded locally hasn’t yet been agreed, it will be significant and will enhance the pledge already made by the three LLR Clinical Commissioning Groups of an additional £2.5m to develop ‘Home First’ services (see diagram below).

Good news for patients

Older people and adults with complex health needs who have a very urgent care need, including a risk of being hospitalised, will be able to access a response from a team of skilled professionals within two hours, to provide the care they need to remain independent.

A two day standard will also apply for teams to put in place tailored packages of intermediate care, or reablement services, for individuals in their own homes, with the aim of restoring independence and confidence after a hospital stay.

The urgent response standards are part of a range of commitments - along with enhanced NHS support to care homes and a push to proactively identify and support those who need it - which local health leaders will be rolling out over the next few years to help keep older people well at home and reduce pressure on hospital services.

Accelerator Site image4Avoiding unneccessary hospital admissions

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said: “The NHS working hand in glove in the community with council-funded social care services can be the difference between an older person or someone with long-term health needs spending a week or a month on a ward – or getting the right help early so they don’t need to go to hospital in the first place.

“That’s why as part of our Long Term Plan for the NHS we are putting community services front and centre, and backing them with a growing share of the NHS budget – and putting in place these new standards will give people and their families peace of mind about what they can expect from their local services when they need help most.”

Shifting more care out of hospital and into the community is one of the key commitments in the Better Care Together plan.

Tamsin Hooton, LLR Director Lead for Community Services Redesign said “This is great news for our health system. The LLR site will cover a population of just over a million people. Community services have sometimes been neglected in the past, but locally we have been working as a system on a large-scale redesign of community health services over the last year, leading to the agreement of a new model that will integrate community health services with social care and primary care, ultimately to improve patient experience and outcomes.

“This announcement means that we now have the national support and pump-prime funding needed to continue the vital work we were already doing with local partners. This is a significant boost to our local plans and will enable us to increase the pace and scale of this work.”

Dr Noel O’Kelly, Associate Medical Director, at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT), said “This is fantastic news for patients. Speaking as a clinician, I am delighted that this announcement will improve our ability to work with primary care and social care to deliver proactive, co-ordinated care to our most vulnerable and high risk patients and support them to live healthier, more independent lives in their own homes and communities”.

Jon Wilson, Director of Adult and Communities, Leicestershire County Council commented: “We are very excited locally about the opportunity that this investment gives us to bring together NHS and social care services to deliver integrated personalised care for people.  Our partnership work aims to enable people to return home from hospital as soon as they can and to stay at home avoiding an admission to hospital, wherever possible.  By providing a single point of access into health and care service for people who may be experiencing a crisis, or require additional care quickly, can vastly improve their outcomes and helps to support their families.”

Accelerator Site image3Benefits of focus on reablement

Reablement services aim to help people, particularly older people, remain independent by:

  • providing support and rehabilitation to people at risk of admission to, or who have been in, hospital;
  • helping make their transfer out of hospital as smooth as possible;
  • ensuring they don't have to move into residential care until they really need to, and;
  • offering short-term support to people living at home who find daily activities difficult.

Studies show the services – provided by teams made up of a range of professionals such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nurses – are highly effective in helping people regain or maintain their independence.

As well as being better for the individuals involved, it’s more cost-effective for the NHS than providing care in hospital, and also means beds can be made available more quickly for patients who need them.

NHS teams in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland have already begun work on developing Home First, our local rapid response service. Leicestershire Partnership Trust will be starting a significant recruitment programme to support the acceleration work. They will be looking for registered nurses, physiotherapists and healthcare assistants to join community teams working closely with social care and local GP practices.

The future of Community Services in LLR