Dec 29th 2017

Trust joins forces with the British Red Cross to help patients at home

A unique collaboration between the British Red Cross and a West Midlands hospital trust has been praised by patients benefitting from the service.

Two support workers from the Red Cross are visiting patients at home following their discharge from Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, and offering them a befriending service, as well as carrying out essential errands such as shopping and collecting prescriptions.

The initiative helps those who are at risk of being readmitted to hospital and it ensures that people can often remain in their own homes.

Funding has been provided as part of its social responsibility policy by the imaging specialist company Canon, which has worked for over 10 years with the Red Cross. This means that the 18-month project will pay for both the support worker roles and a service coordinator. All three are based at Sandwell Hospital and work alongside the communities and therapies team, who will identify patients in need of extra support.

One of those patients is Graham Harrison, of Oldbury. He has hailed the service as a “brilliant idea”.

The 76-year-old was discharged from Sandwell Hospital in October after having a stroke. Since then, he has been regularly visited by Pauline Nettleford, one of the support workers.

“It’s been an absolutely fantastic service,” said the former karate instructor. “When I came out of hospital, I couldn’t do anything. I had a lot of help from the nurses and physiotherapists, but also from Pauline too.

“She has assisted me in many ways. Ways that have surprised me. She’s offered to go shopping for me, accompany me to hospital appointments, take my dog for a walk – and even take me for a walk.

“She’ll come over and sit and chat to me but do things, like make me a drink or help with light housework.

“Since I was discharged, I have come on leaps and bounds. Just a few days ago I was slurring my words and talking out the side of my mouth. And I struggled with getting around. But now I am talking properly and can move around the house.”

He added: “I think the partnership is a brilliant idea. It’s been great for me and other people who are a lot worse off than I am.”

Sandra Kennelly, Clinical Team Leader for Primary Care, Community and Therapies at SWBH, said: “We offer an integrated service called iCares, which involves a team of nurses, therapists and support workers going out to see patients in the community who require rehabilitation or are at risk of admission into hospital.

“If there is any urgent therapy or nursing required then we can provide that. However, there are some patients who we feel need more of a social input and that is where this partnership with the Red Cross works perfectly.”

Chris Leek, independent living service manager for the British Red Cross, said: “The Red Cross is working in partnership with SWBH’s community services and provides support to vulnerable individuals who are at risk of being readmitted to hospital.

“It ensures that with Red Cross support, people can often remain in their own homes and can avoid having to go into hospital.

“The collaboration allows SWBH’s community services to meet medical needs while the Red Cross provides support for non-medical needs including befriending, accompanying people to hospital appointments, shopping, applying for benefits, meeting friends and family and getting out and about to clubs and social activities.”

Watch Graham Harrison talk about the unique collaboration below: 


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