Improving patient flow at Broomfield British Red Cross 

Improving patient flow at Broomfield British Red Cross  featured image
The British Red Cross team have been helping Broomfield Hospital improve patient flow to free up beds and make stays more pleasant for vulnerable patients to help reduce time spent in hospital.

Broomfield is the largest hospital within the Mid Essex Trust and serves Chelmsford and the surrounding areas. The British Red Cross team were brought in 2015 to provide an assisted discharge service to ensure beds become available when patients get the all clear to go home. But the care provided to patients goes far beyond this. There are many non-clinical factors that can delay a patients recovery and the team are on hand to plug these gaps.

Volunteers look at each case individually and find solutions to effective patient flow.

img_1293-2.jpgElderly patients often arrive without personal items that can make recovery difficult. With the patients’ permission the team are able to access their homes and collect the dentures that will enable them to eat, the hearing aids that will allow them to engage in treatment and any items – such as crochet or knitting – that will help keep the patient positive and therefore more resilient to decline.

Access to patients’ homes can make a critical difference. On many occasions patient discharge can be delayed because key medical equipment cannot be delivered to homes where there is no-one there to sign for it. The British Red Cross team can step in to take delivery. Within the hospital, the team are on call to respond quickly to ad hoc requests that will make a difference. In one case, hospital staff were concerned when a man in his 90s, who was caring for his wife with dementia, did not turn-up for an appointment. The Red Cross volunteer was able to drive to the man’s home and, when they discovered the man had collapsed in his hallway, were able to get immediate medical help.

Types of support offered by the team varies greatly and has included collecting and delivering essential medication, measuring up patients’ homes following hip surgery to ensure furniture meets discharge requirements, and providing warm clothes for the journey home.

The team are also able to help with mobility aid loans, which have been essential to timely discharge in cases where aids ordered from other suppliers has not arrived or there are no relatives to take the delivery.

Importantly, patients are supported to re-settle at home, which reduces the chance of re-admittance. The team have helped recently discharged patients by clearing clutter from their homes to avoid accidents, getting rid of out of date food and waiting with the patient until other care arrives. As well as supporting the recovery and discharge process, such support makes the transfer from hospital to home more dignified for the patients.

Sue Collins

[email protected]

Head of Independent Living

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