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Pioneering approach between Council and NHS staff sees Stockton-on-Tees lead the way in hospital discharges

16 March 2023
An image of a carer helping in a resident's kitchen. Image also has a headshot of Councillor Ann McCoy

An image of a carer helping in a resident's kitchen. Image also has a headshot of Councillor Ann McCoy

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is "bucking the national trend" when vulnerable residents are discharged from hospital, figures have revealed.

The Council's Integrated Single Point of Access (ISPA) team help find suitable support for residents in need of extra help once they leave University Hospital of North Tees.

It could be that a resident is supported to return home with a package of care, or if it's unsafe for them to go home, they can be given a short-term rehabilitation placement, followed by a care package.

And figures from January 2023 show that the Council has helped University Hospital of North Tees perform better than the national average for the number of patients who had been in hospital for 14+ days and 21+ days. This was also the second best across the North East and Yorkshire, which covers 21 local authority areas.

And Stockton-on-Tees also performed better than any other authority in the North East and Yorkshire for how few patients who were in hospital for seven days or more.

"Our staff and partners are extremely hard-working, knowledgeable and dedicated. They see themselves as one big team when it comes to helping patients," says the Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Councillor Ann McCoy.

"Of course we want our residents to be spending the minimum time they need to in hospital and to achieve this it's very much a joined-up approach with a range of partners, particularly colleagues in the NHS, which we know is not always the case in other parts of the country.

"Council and hospital staff meet daily and also have an IT system all staff can access, which makes discharge from hospital for patients as smooth as possible. It's great to hear that staff get so much satisfaction from knowing they can make such a difference to someone's life every day they're going to work.

"And there are a range of care options for residents, which means we can keep them reassured during what is of course often a particularly uncertain time when they're getting ready to leave hospital.

"Looking after the residents is at the forefront of everything the team does and it's thanks to their excellent work that more than 3,000 hospital discharges were overseen last year, which works out to more than nine patients discharged each day.

"With relationships with partners such as care home managers well-established, the ISPA team's work continues to go from strength to strength and is bucking the national trend."

George, 92, experienced first-hand how the Council's joined-up approach can help make a hospital discharge as smooth as possible.

The former police officer and engineer had fallen and broken his hip, which required an operation.

Once George was ready to leave hospital, he was given a variety of options for the next steps he could take. After staff consulted with George and his family, it was decided a short stay at Rosedale Care Home was the best option for him.

George said: "I told them I was worried about how I would manage at home and we discussed going somewhere for a short time.

"When I was in hospital I was obviously unwell so it was important that my daughter knew what was happening and she could take it all in for me. The communication was good, everyone knew what was happening and everyone knew the same thing.

"I liked the idea of a short place to get me back on my feet. I just wasn't ready straight from hospital but with the therapy and the time to heal I feel I will be able to manage on my own at home again.

"The staff know what they are doing, they know what is needed to get people what they need."

Vicky Cardona, head of patient flow services at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The ISPA has proven that by working together and bringing highly skilled and experienced health and social care professionals together, organisations can improve the care that patients get and improve health outcomes.

"It is one of several methods we have used to improve the discharge process - which we were delighted to showcase recently during a visit the Prime Minister and health secretary made to the University Hospital of North Tees.

"Because of this joined-up working, we are not only getting patients home more quickly but we are then helping keep them out of hospital in the long term."

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