Geriatric short stay unit has been a success
A SPECIAL short stay unit for elderly people at St Peter’s Hospital has been deemed a success, treating 5,186 patients since last December.
At the end of last year a new Older Persons’ Short Stay Unit, Cherry Ward, opened at the Chertsey hospital, specifically to care for patients over the age of 75.
Led by consultant orthogeriatrician, Dr Radcliffe Lisk and his colleagues, the new unit ensures that patients receive a comprehensive assessment soon after being admitted to hospital by a highly specialised multi-disciplinary team, receive good continuity of care and are discharged more quickly.
Dr Lisk said: “Providing good care for our elderly patients can be a challenge. They often come into hospital as an emergency but in treating the problem they present with, we need to consider the other, complex, health issues they may have.
“There are also considerations around things such as mobility, ability to live independently at home, family support, memory loss and dementia.
“Comprehensively assessing all of their needs as soon as they come into hospital means we can put the right care plan in place and think ahead for when the time comes for them to go home.
“For some time we’ve taken a joint approach to this, with a dedicated team of geriatricians, nurses, therapists, dieticians providing early, detailed assessment.”
While this ‘joined-up’ approach was proving very successful, it became clear it was difficult to follow-up patients once they were moved to a ward.
“It’s hard to keep track of patients when they are located on several wards”, added Dr Lisk. “Even the time it takes to walk backwards and forwards is lost time for patient care.”
The solution was to create Cherry Ward – a dedicated 13-bed facility located in the old Medical Assessment Unit at St Peter’s Hospital.
Dr Chikusu, consultant acute physician and geriatrician and new lead for the unit, adds: “We’ve also changed the way we staff this service.
“Between 8am and 6pm each day we aim to have a dedicated senior member of our team in A&E, the Acute Medical Unit and on Cherry Ward, so they can work together to quickly identify elderly patients who need our specialist input and should be moved to the unit.
“We’ve also introduced a ‘Consultant of the Week’ model, meaning the same consultant attends the unit each day, providing better continuity of care and reducing repetition.”
Between December 2015 and May 2016, 5,186 patients aged 75-plus were admitted, with an average stay of 7.55 days, a great improvement on the previous year. Between December 2014 and May 2015, 5,253 patients were admitted with an average length of stay of 9.30 days.
Dr Lisk said: “We know that spending long periods of time in hospital can actually be detrimental to our older patients’ health and wellbeing. Most do not want to be in hospital and over time, their mobility and independence can reduce.
“It’s great that the introduction of Cherry Ward and our approach of working so closely with the senior therapy team is enabling us to provide a more tailored package of care for these patients, and to discharge them more quickly.”
In recognition of this success, the team presented at the Acute Frailty Network’s annual conference on June 30 and will also give a presentation at the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society (EUGMS) Congress in Lisbon in October.
Dr Radcliffe Lisk, left, with occupational therapist Charlotte Spencer, Dr Bhavidra Pathmanathan, physio Ruth O’Sullivan, Deputy Sister Marlyn Pagkalinawan, therapy assistant Simon Lister, ward manager Kristine Reyes and Dr Clarence Chikus who have all been working on Cherry Ward.