Nick Seddon, special adviser on health to Prime Minister David Cameron, was in Baldock last Friday checking out a unique partnership that is helping frail elderly people to stay well and avoid being admitted to hospital.
He was visiting one of the 20 care homes in east and north Hertfordshire that are undertaking additional specialist training as part of a nationally recognised NHS ‘Vanguard’ care home improvement scheme.
The project brings together East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Hertfordshire County Council and the Hertfordshire Care Providers Association to deliver high quality care for care home residents, enabling them to lead healthier, happier lives.
Nick Seddon talked to care home staff who have received extra training to help them understand the issues that particularly affect elderly, frail residents, preventing problems from arising wherever possible. He also saw some of the wellbeing activities residents enjoy – watching an exercise class and a horticulture session – before spending time chatting to residents, staff and a relative.
Burleigh House, Baldock was one of the first homes to sign up to the ‘Vanguard’ Project, which pays a premium to care homes which undertake additional advanced training in five key areas: dementia, nutrition, falls and fragility, wound management and health (including end of life, continence, neurological and respiratory conditions.)
Dr Nicky Williams, a Hertfordshire GP who is the lead clinician for the project and deputy clinical chair of East and North Hertfordshire CCG, explained how each care home has dedicated GP support:
“In the past, you could have GPs from several different practices visiting their patients at the same time. Now there is a regular visit from a dedicated GP practice which helps to build trusted relationships with patients and staff. The residents here also benefit from expert advice from specialist geriatricians, pharmacists who review their medication and community nursing support.
Mr Seddon was particularly interested in the enhanced training around dementia care, saying: “The dementia care here is impressive. There is some excellent work being done in east and north Hertfordshire that I think could be replicated around the country.”
Jamie Sutterby, Assistant Director of Health Integration at Hertfordshire County Council said:
“It is great to see that the project is already having such a positive impact for our care home residents and staff. This is just one example of the important work we are doing in Hertfordshire which is raising the profile of good care and celebrating people working in caring professions.”
Sharon Davies, Chief Executive of Hertfordshire Care Providers Association added: “These homes are becoming beacon homes – as the care association we are sharing our learning with others in Hertfordshire and beyond, helping to spread the quality of care.”