Following the success of our Care Home Advice Line, a pilot that has now been rolled out across Surrey Heartlands, we have just launched a new short film that explains how the service is helping to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions for local care home residents.  Watch the film here.

This dedicated telephone advice line has been set up for local care homes to give staff access to urgent medical advice out of hours.  This is helping to reduce the number of care home residents being taken to A&E as staff are now able to look after them more confidently with the right medical advice and is also helping reduce pressure on emergency services over the busy winter period.

The service began as a pilot in North West Surrey where in 2017/18 care home residents accounted for over 1660 admissions to St Peter’s Hospital and nearly 2,500 A&E attendances.  Data showed that over 52% of these hospital admissions [from care homes] took place out of hours (between 6.00 pm and 8.00 am), many of which were unnecessary and could have been avoided with the right medical advice.  Not only is this putting extra pressure on hospital services, for many older people admission to hospital results in further deterioration of their wellbeing and independence.

To address this challenge, the team at North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group worked with Care UK to set up a clinical advice line to support local nursing home staff out of hours.  The service is available to both healthcare professionals and non-professional staff working in residential care homes and is accessed via a dedicated number.  Calls are answered by call handlers who work to a detailed protocol.  If it’s clear that a resident needs an ambulance then 

this is arranged immediately.  Otherwise, a call back is provided by a relevant clinician who will give a detailed telephone review and advice.  If required, they are also able to arrange a face-to-face visit by the out of hours GP.

For example, an elderly gentleman who received an accidental bump to the head from a fellow resident’s Zimmer frame, was fully triaged by the service in just over an hour.  Staff at his care home, concerned about his injury (a small bump and a slight cut to the forehead) called the advice line and received the relevant advice so he could be cared for without coming into hospital.  Importantly this included information on what to look out for should his circumstances deteriorate and what to do if that happened.

You can watch our short film describing the service here