Improving local care in Swale.
We are working closely with GPs, health and social care partners and the voluntary sector to invest in new services and change the way we work to provide the best possible care for you at home or in your local community. This is called local care.
In this section, we explain why we need to make the changes, the challenges we face and what we are doing to improve local care in your area.
Why do things need to change?
Here are some of the challenges we are facing in Swale:
- Our local population is growing and people are living longer. We are also caring for more people living with long term conditions like diabetes, heart disease and asthma, or who suffer from mental health issues. People living in our poorest communities are more likely to develop serious illnesses or die at a younger age.
- GP services are at the heart of local care in Sittingbourne and Sheppey, and we have worked hard with our general practices to raise the quality of care provided for patients. Despite this, GP practices are under increasing pressure due to the national shortage of GPs and nurses, along with the need to care for more patients.
- Many people, and particularly older people who are frail and those with complex needs could be better cared for in their own home (your own bed is the best bed), rather than in hospital. This means that we need to put more services in place to care for people at home.
- Working as we are now, there aren’t enough nurses, therapy staff and social care workers to fill our vacancies, and like elsewhere in the country, we are facing challenges with recruiting.
- A lot of our community teams of staff could work better together in a more joined-up way, so that patients do not have to repeat their story many times.
- There are pressures on budgets and we need to make sure that we get the best value for the money we have available.
If we carry on working the way we are, then we won’t be able to meet the current and future needs of local people within our existing budgets. That’s why we need to reorganise the way we work to increase the quality of local care in Swale.
How are we tackling these challenges in Swale?
We have been working closely with our partners in the NHS, local government and the voluntary sector on a local care plan to make sure that people in Swale get the care they need in the right place and at the right time.
This is the first time that we have all worked together in this way and all the partners have been involved in shaping the local care plan. It gives us a real opportunity to bring about positive changes and improvements in the way we deliver health and social care.
The Local Care plan focuses on improving care for older people who are frail and patients with complex health conditions to help them stay well and independent in their own homes. By delivering joined-up care at home this will avoid a number of patients being admitted to hospital unnecessarily and enable them to be discharged from hospital as soon as they are medically fit.
We want to support people more to understand their conditions better and by taking steps to help themselves stay well. We’re also working to help people take better control of their health through life choices like diet and exercise.
Already a number of new services have been introduced and we are investing around £2.6m in Swale over the next two years to improve care delivered in people homes and communities, rather than in hospital.
In summary, our aims are to:
- Offer more support to help people live healthy lives
- Make sure we are working with our social care and voluntary partners in a more joined-up way to provide more efficient, high quality care and support
- Design services around the needs of local people
- Offer you more personalised care that supports your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing
- Care for you as close as home as possible (your own bed is the best bed)
- Respond quickly if you become unwell and need extra help
- Give you improved access to a wider range of services at your local GP practice
- Support frail older people and those with complex needs to manage their conditions and stay independent in their own homes
- Attract, retain and grow our workforce
- Manage our money wisely and make the best use of our resources.
Who will benefit from the changes?
Although the local care plan has been developed for the whole population, to begin with, we will be focusing on improving local care for older people who are frail and those with complex needs.
A number of new services have been introduced and health and social care professionals are working in a different way to improve the quality of care for our patients. Here are some examples:
Local GP practices now meet regularly in ‘multi-disciplinary teams’ with nurses, therapy staff, mental health, social care professionals and community navigators to offer personalised, joined up care to patients with physical, mental and emotional wellbeing needs.
There are three MDTs in Swale, covering Sheppey, Sittingbourne East and Sittingbourne West, each serving a population of between 31,000 and 47,000 registered patients.
The teams meet regularly to review the patients that have been referred to the MDT. They focus on what matters most to the patient and the support they need to help make their lives better. By doing so, they look at the bigger picture which could include putting a range of services in place to support patients with their medical and emotional needs.
By working together, the MDTs are able to help more patients to be cared for in the comfort of their own home, where possible.
Community navigation service
People are often not aware of the local services that are available to them or find it difficult to get the help they need. That is why we have worked with Kent County Council to fund a Community navigation service which is delivered by Imago Community.
The team of Community Navigators work with people to identify what will make the greatest improvement to their health, wellbeing and confidence; providing information, advice and guidance to help them access a range of community, health and social care services. These include carers’ support, housing options, benefits, aids and adaptations and activities within their local community.
People can be referred to the service via their GP practice, Multi-disciplinary team or other health and social care professionals. They can also make a self-referral.
Rapid response teams
The Rapid response service is a team of specialist nurses and therapists who provide urgent specialist care for people at home, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, responding to a call usually within two hours.
The team is being expanded to support more patients from the community or being discharged from hospital to ensure they receive the care they need in their own home.
This will reduce the number of patients having to be admitted to hospital unnecessarily and help those who have been discharged from hospital to regain their independence as quickly as possible at home.
Primary care home visiting service
A new paramedic-led home visiting service is available for housebound patients who can now be seen earlier in the day and receive the care they need, rather than waiting until the afternoon for a visit from their GP.
There is also a higher chance that if patients need to go to hospital, they will be seen and can return home the same day, where they will recover more quickly, rather than ending up staying overnight if they are admitted later in the day.
This service is already making a difference to patients and GPs, whose workload is being freed up to see more patients in their surgeries.
This animation explains how the NHS, local government and the voluntary sector are working together to provide better care closer to home.
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