Couple can stay living at home together despite illness thanks to new project in Ely and Wisbech

11:41 03 February 2014

young nurse chatting with her patient

young nurse chatting with her patient

© Dean Mitchell

A couple who have been married for more than 70 years have been able to stay together at home despite illness thanks to a new rapid response care service.

The pilot service is helping unwell older people in Wisbech and Ely get the urgent support they need.

Vera Wickham was referred to the service by her GP after an infected, swollen leg left her unable to walk and feeling unwell with a high temperature.

Vera also suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure and high blood pressure, which impact on how she is able to cope.

The couple were struggling with daily tasks and activities and feared they may need to be cared for away from their home together.

However, thanks to a referral to the new rapid response service they got the support they needed.

Lucy Stewart, Community Matron, worked closely with Vera’s GP to ensure she received the medication she needed.

Lucy said: “One of the most important tasks during an assessment is to ask what the patient is most worried about.

“Vera doesn’t want to go to hospital because of her fears of dying there and leaving her husband alone. Once I understood this I could plan her care according to her wishes.

“After 73 years of marriage the Wickham’s have become completely reliant on each other. It was vital to involve and communicate with both Vera and her husband inclusively.”

Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust has launched a year long community rapid response scheme for patients registered with GP practices in the Ely and Wisbech areas.

GPs, paramedics and other medical professionals can contact a senior nurse who will arrange for the most appropriate professional from the multi-disciplinary service to visit their patient at home.

They will then assess them to determine the type of care and support they need to recover – either at home or a short stay in a community hospital.

The service includes nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists social care managers, a consultant geriatrician, pharmacists, multi-skilled healthcare assistants and others.

Ross Collett, Local Chief Officer for Wisbech and Isle of Ely Local Commissioning Group (LCG), said: “The service aims to ensure that people who are in a crisis situation, but do not need to go to hospital, receive the best care possible in the most appropriate place.

“Most people in this situation are better cared for in their own homes, but need a lot of support from medical and social care staff for this to happen. “As commissioners of NHS services, it is good to see so many NHS providers working in partnership to support patient’s needs.”

Mike Passfield, Head of Nursing (Unplanned Care, Ely & the Fens Community Unit) Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, said: “We have designed the service to complement existing community services run by the Trust such as district nursing, intermediate care, re-ablement, therapies and in-patient wards in community hospitals, and will be working closely with these services.”

The service provides same day assessment for most patients and aims to refer them to other community services within seven days.

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