BETTER ways of working with care homes and looking after their elderly residents are being investigated by the area’s new health team.
More than 30 care home owners and managers attended a seminar organised by the NHS Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group to share views and to discuss future developments.
Plans include the introduction of an outreach geriatrician, in partnership with GPs, to visit elderly residents in care homes
The event at the King’s Hall, Herne Bay was the first of its kind organised by the CCG, which covers Canterbury, Herne Bay, Whitstable, Faversham, Sandwich, Ash and surrounding villages.
The CCG, which is led by GPs, took over an annual £243 million health budget for the area on 1 April. It wants to work with the care home sector and offer more support to residents.
Lorraine Medwin, the CCG’s commissioning delivery manager who also chaired the day-long event on Wednesday (1 May), said: “We are working with community nurses, social services and experts in a coordinated way to offer more support to care homes and their residents.”
She added: “It was the first time we were able to talk to care home owners and staff in one place to tell them of our plans and to hear their views.”
Among those present were Paul Montgomery, chief executive of the Strode Park Foundation at Herne; Jenny Gurney of Faversham’s Fynvola Foundation nursing home, which looks after people with learning difficulties at the end of their lives, and Kan Rayakanthan, a director of Nicholas James Care Homes which has 11 in Kent including Beacon Hill Lodge, Haydon Mayer, Chestfield House, Harbledown Lodge and Whitstable Nursing Home.
Mr Rayakanthan said: “The day was very helpful. It was good to meet people who are now working as a team.”
Kevin Parker, chairman of the Kent Care Homes Association, said: “The care homes sector welcomes breaking down artificial barriers between health and social care to create a seamless approach to looking after residents and improving quality.
“We are hoping for a lot more support for residential care homes. It is right that people are treated where they have lived for years and know and trust the staff rather than having to go to an anonymous hospital ward. It is wins all round.”
Linda Caldwell, who specialises in dementia care commissioning for the CCG in this area, said two care homes were now going to undertake the Excellence in Care Course in conjunction with Bradford University to introduce good practice and dementia training. Last year some homes across the country had asked night staff to work in pyjamas to make confused residents feel more relaxed. Other staff now sit down to eat with residents. Some homes allow food to be served 24 hours a day. Some use doll therapy which has been found to cut down the need for drugs.
She explained how pupils at Simon Langton Boys Grammar School in Canterbury had teamed up with Kimberley Care Home in Mickleburgh Hill, Herne Bay to work with dementia sufferers as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
Kimberley Care Home owner Kevin Post said: “We wanted to show students that those with dementia were people, too. It is great seeing different generations interacting.”
He has accessed funds to install iPads and a wireless network for students to use when they visit the home.
Faye Hames, commissioning manager of neighbouring NHS Thanet CCG leading on End of Life for East Kent, said: “Eighty-nine per cent of people who die in hospital are emergency admissions. We believe we can help more people die in a place of their choosing. It is a difficult conversation but many like to talk about their fears and worries.”
A secure on-line My Wishes register has been set up so people can make their wishes known. The register can only be accessed by health and social care staff like GPs, district nurses, ambulance and A&E staff and hospices.
There were presentations from Judith Rawlings, the lead clinical nurse specialist for older people in care homes from Kent Community Health NHS Trust and William Anderson, head of long-term care from the Kent Community Health NHS Trust’s neighbourhood care team.
Mr Anderson, who has a team of 100 community nurses making 9,500 visits a month, said: “We want to bring all nursing skills into one team for each town so the right person will see the patient. In the past, there were 16 teams across the area. Now we have created a new model with five larger teams with a spread of skills.”
Whitstable, Faversham and Herne Bay now have a team of their own. Canterbury has two teams serving the east and west of the city including Sandwich and Ash.
Mr Anderson added: “Before, there were times when three services were in the same home each doing a slightly different thing. We want to deliver better care to the community by integrating services.”
Hilary Brighton, the county council’s safeguarding vulnerable adults’ coordinator, explained her role and pharmacist Sheila Brown, the CCG’s prescribing advisor, described how to manage medicines better within a care home. The CCG spends £29 million a year on prescriptions.
She gave a demonstration of how to correctly use an inhaler and told delegates: “When we visited care homes we discovered only seven per cent of healthcare professionals could demonstrate a good technique. Little things like showing patients how to get the most from inhalers can make a lot of difference.”
The care homes agreed that the day had been very interesting and would like to have a regular forum where they can discuss issues, share good practice with peer support and access training and health professionals. The CCG is planning to hold more events in the future.