28 April 2014
A new pilot project which uses technology to help patients with long term health and care needs in St Helens manage their condition more effectively has proved a success for both patients and healthcare staff.
The project, which was set up by Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust in partnership with St Helens Council and telehealth company Tunstall in July 2013, has already been used by 67 patients in the borough.
The aim of the project was to use technology or ‘telehealth’ to support the borough’s Reablement Service. The Reablement Service offers support to patients leaving Whiston Hospital with conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Diabetes.
The service gives patients a chance to recover and regain their independence at a five bed Reablement Unit at Brookfield Residential Home in Blackbrook. The service is delivered by social care and clinical staff, including experienced social workers, occupational therapists, nurses, physiotherapists, intermediate care support workers and more from organisations such as Bridgewater and St Helens Council.
The project which uses the ‘myclinic’ multi user telehealth system supports and enables patients at Brooklands to monitor their own blood pressure, oxygen levels, weight and temperature on a daily basis and also answer a series of health related questions. This information is then transported in real time to a software system managed by St Helens Careline*.
This system enables clinical and social care staff to monitor the progress of patients and they can contact senior nurses to visit a patient if they have any concerns. This early intervention can prevent the deterioration of a patient’s condition and also help prevent their possible re-admission to hospital.
The project has helped save Community Matrons from Bridgewater approximately two days a week visiting Brookfields. Ann Hughes, a Reablement Nurse from Bridgewater explains:
“Telehealth has really helped me prioritise patient care. I can log on anytime to access the information and see straight away if the observations are indicating that I need to go out to see someone. I used to go to the Reablement Unit at Brooklands every day but now I don’t feel I need to and that’s freed my time to make more community visits. Telehealth has given me the flexibility to be more responsive to patients’ needs, and it’s empowering them to take more responsibility for maintaining their own health.”
One of the patients who has benefitted from the project is Les Foster, an 82 year old from Blackbrook, St Helens. Les has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and following a stay in hospital he was admitted to the Reablement Service at Brookfield in October 2013. He spent three weeks there recuperating using the ‘my clinic’ telehealth system and upon returning home, Les used a similar telehealth ‘mymedic’ system for another three weeks to help monitor his condition as it improved. As a result of using the telehealth systems Mr Foster’s condition became stable and he felt he had been given a new lease of life. He explains:
“The system is a really big help… It makes you manage your condition better because you have to take your readings every day. It’s a brilliant service and I would recommend it to anyone.”
In June 2014 the Council will evaluate the progress of the service so far taking into account the views of all the patients who have participated. The Council will then make a decision whether or not to extend the use of telehealth to other residential care homes and day centres in the borough.