Improving services for the frail and elderly

A recent report highlighted that 65% of emergency hospital admissions in 2012-13 were from people who are aged 85 or over. While this is a national figure we do see a lot of older people coming into Grimsby A&E, especially in the winter months.

We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some warm weather recently so winter seems very far away. But it’s only round the corner and I’ve already been working with health care colleagues across North East Lincolnshire, and further afield, to improve care for older people in readiness for the change in season.

Bad weather, extreme low temperatures and flu all have an impact; while we can’t control these factors we can look at alternative ways to deliver care.  For instance, we’re planning to bring a doctor dedicated to older patients into Grimsby’s A&E department, as well as developing a new frailty unit. I’m looking forward to visiting a hospital in Doncaster where a frailty unit has already been set up to learn from their way of working and look at the best way to implement a similar service in North East Lincolnshire.

This move will make sure that older people who come to A&E are fully assessed, not only from a health perspective, but also to consider if their social care needs are being met. If an elderly relative of yours comes into Grimsby A&E you can be reassured that they’ll leave with the support to keep them safe and well at home for longer, or we’ll find the best alternative place for them to go.  We hope patients will benefit from this development this winter.

But caring for older people isn’t just about hospital and GP services; it’s the whole package we need to consider. That’s why naming and shaming GPs to highlight who is ‘failing to keep over 60s out of hospital’ wouldn’t work, as reported in the Daily Mail.

We need to make sure there is enough support to keep people active and social in their community.  Things start to go wrong when people become socially isolated and it’s these people who are more likely to become frail and end up in hospital.

Dr Karin Severin
Clinical Lead for Older People and GP at Birkwood Medical Practice

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