The Trust’s North Devon care homes team has been shortlisted for the Patient Safety Awards 2015, led by flagship publications the Health Service Journal and Nursing Times.
The team presented its entry to the judging panel in London earlier this month and will find out if it has won at the awards ceremony at the ICC in Birmingham on Monday 6 July.
The team provides free training and support to independent care home providers to improve the safety and quality of care for residents, while promoting closer working between organisations.
The service, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, was set up in February 2012 with the help of Section 256 funding from Devon County Council.
Initially, two nurses provided training to care home staff with the aim of reducing the number of hospital admissions due to urinary tract infections (UTIs) which could have been prevented.
Following its early success, the service has expanded to include a team lead, four nurse educators (including a safeguarding nurse), an occupational therapist and two administrators.
The team provides tailored programmes of training and support on-site at 70 care homes, covering other leading causes of avoidable hospital admissions and safeguarding issues.
Since the project was launched, the number of emergency admissions to hospital from care homes has reduced by around 40% from 1,382 in 2012 to 844 in 2014.
At the same time, the number of safeguarding investigations fell significantly.
Dr Alison Diamond, chief executive, said: “Patient safety is our number one priority so to be shortlisted for such a prestigious industry award is fantastic news for the Trust.
“The care homes team does a tremendous job working with independent providers to improve practices and procedures and helping residents to remain independent and avoid distress, pain, discomfort and admission to hospital.
“In turn this saves unnecessary expenditure for the NHS.
“The feedback we’ve received from care home managers and partner organisations has been excellent while surveys have shown there is much better awareness among the staff we’ve helped to train.”
The Trust is one of 10 organisations to be shortlisted from the 99 entries submitted in the education and training in patient safety category of the awards.
Suzanne Flannery, awards organiser, said: “The judges had a tough job scoring and have commended the high quality of entries this year, so to be shortlisted is a fantastic achievement.”
In 2013 the Trust won the partnership excellence category at the annual Guardian Public Services Awards.
The team has earned praise from the Care Quality Commission and Sir David Nicholson, the former chief executive of NHS England, who suggested its work could be replicated across the country.