Patients will be supported by Age UK Oxfordshire staff to feel more confident on returning home from hospital, and be helped to access support in the community.
This support forms part of the health and social care system-wide ‘home first’ service, which prioritises treating people closer to home and avoiding prolonged hospital stays. Supported by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Oxfordshire County Council, and the South Central Ambulance Service, the system has encouraged this approach with initiatives such as additional support from HART services.
Age UK Oxfordshire staff are based at the John Radcliffe Hospital from Monday to Friday, and at the Horton General Hospital on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Staff are available from 8am – 4pm with a view to extending availability to 6pm in the new year. The team will also be available on Saturdays at both sites from 10am-3pm.
Contracted to work with the Trust for a year, the Age UK Oxfordshire team expect to assist with at least four discharges a day. The team are funded by Oxfordshire County Council and the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
Ruth Swift, Head of Community Development at Age UK Oxfordshire who is leading the hospital support, said: “We’re really pleased to be contributing to the Trust team. By being on-site at the hospitals, we’re able to act quickly to support patients on their discharge from hospitals. We can be there during their hospital treatment to get an idea of what they’re likely to need when they go home, and help them with all kinds of care. Our main aim is for people to feel confident and comfortable in their own home, which is often the best place for them to be.”
Sam Foster, Chief Nursing Officer at the Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Age UK Oxfordshire, they have demonstrated that their support makes a real difference.
“Winter is an incredibly busy time for our hospitals. Knowing that our patients have that extra bit of help is really beneficial, and fully supports our ‘home first’ approach. All of our initiatives to support this have the same message at their core – often, home is the best place for our patients. No-one wants to stay in hospital longer than they need to, and our Age UK Oxfordshire colleagues are there to make sure our patients feel assured and happy in their own homes.
“After being in hospital, our patients can often feel nervous about returning to more independent living. With Age UK Oxfordshire working with our patients from the very beginning of their hospital stay, they can tailor their approach to suit people’s individual needs.”
Stephen Chandler, Director of Adult Services at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “This is a wonderful initiative across the health and social care system.
“During the winter months, elderly people can be particularly vulnerable to the colder weather with higher risks of slips and falls, respiratory problems, and flu. With Age UK Oxfordshire’s help, they can be signposted to some of the excellent support that’s in the community, which gives them one less thing to worry about when returning home from hospital and focusing on their recovery.”