Monday, 10 July 2017

An example of integrated care – my visit to ORCAT

We hear a lot about health services changing to become more ‘integrated’. Put simply, this means working closely together so the care patients receive is more joined up.

At Pennine Care, we are working with partner organisations across our footprint to integrate more services and improve patient experience. I recently visited the ORCAT service – a perfect example of this.

ORCAT (or Oldham Rapid Community Assessment Team) was set up by the Oldham Urgent Care Alliance. Pennine Care is a key member of the alliance, which is a partnership of 10 health, care and voluntary sector organisations developed to improve outcomes for local people by enhancing current services.

ORCAT works closely with colleagues at The Royal Oldham Hospital, including those in the A&E department, to react quickly and prevent people from being admitted to hospital if they can be supported at home with the right professional help. Once at home, the team takes a partnership approach to assessment and care planning to understand what level of support the individual may need to live as safely and independently as possible.

It consists of therapists, nurses, health care assistants and mental health practitioners from Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, social workers from Oldham Council, and a Promoting Independence in People (PIP) support worker from Age UK Oldham, who have been brought together to work as one multi-agency team.

As well as preventing people from being admitted to hospital by identifying them early, the team works closely with hospital-based nurses, doctors, discharge coordinators and the RAID mental health liaison team to also support patients who have been admitted to the wards who could be discharged early with the support of the service. 

I met with three members of the team - Cathy, Rachel and Claire – as many others were out and about supporting people at the hospital or in their homes.

It was a really good afternoon; we talked through the service model which was brought to life by patient stories that illustrated the support not only for the patient but for families and carers as well.

Everyone talked about how great the ‘team’ feel was and the fact that each member’s contribution was of equal value to the end outcome. The team really valued the input of the Age UK PIP worker, which makes a huge difference to the team’s success.

The team has worked very hard to build relationships with colleagues in the local hospital and over the past few months things have really moved on in terms of embedding the service.  However, they acknowledged there is still some way to go with raising profile for GPs, so that they understand the potential for people to be supported at home by the team. The GPs who they do work with are really impressed with the support the team is able to mobilise at pace and the range of issues that they are equipped to deal with. 

There were, of course, a few frustrations felt by the team – these were mostly around the type of things that can add delay to discharges. Overall, it was lovely to hear that all three staff were enthusiastic, energetic and said they really enjoyed their job and went home knowing that they’d made a real difference to someone’s life.

While I was there, I noticed a compliment that had been sent in by a relative. With the team’s permission, I wanted to include a snippet of it in this blog as I think it really demonstrates how the team can support people:

“Immediate support following discharge from hospital of my 94 year old father… ORCAT is a fantastic service and were a lifeline to our family. All the ORCAT workers who supported my father combined efficiency and knowledge of care for the elderly with kindness, patience and encouragement. They were excellent. The service is well coordinated, ensuring effective care was in place from day 1 after discharge. This is the health service at its best. *Gold Star*

I went away feeling really upbeat and very impressed with the dedication and values that shone through the staff I spoke with. Thanks to Claire, Cathy and Rachel for meeting with me.

Judith Crosby
Executive Director of Service Development and Sustainability

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