Friday 20 September 2019

'Frailty' teams to assess over-75s at hospital A&Es

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

patients aged over 75 are to be assessed in A&Es by special "frailty" teams of health staff during the worst of the trolley crisis in a bid to cut down on needless admissions to a ward, it emerged yesterday.

The clinics are part of the HSE's delayed €30m winter plan to tackle the crisis, which goes before the Emergency Department taskforce today.

It is unclear how many hospitals and community services will have the multi-disciplinary staff - who include physiotherapists, occupational therapists and a geriatrician - to roll out the clinics which have proved successful in early assessments.

At St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny, they have reduced bed days by 1,236 - equivalent to 34.1pc - in the 85 and over age group over the course of three months.

Physiotherapists Helen Fitzgerald and Maureen O'Callaghan said all patients over 75 - 4,854 in all - coming to its A&E were screened for frailty between February 2017 to October 2018.

The assessment involves looking at their social circumstance, such as whether they are living on their own.

It looks at how they function, such as being able to dress themselves unaided and whether they can leave the house alone. Nearly half were at risk of frailty.

Due to various assessments the team were able to identify early risks of frailty and therefore decrease the amount of hospital bed days that would have been needed to treat these patients.

The HSE plan will include €16m for social care supports including 550 homecare packages.

It also promises another 79 beds, although most of these will not be opened until the first months of next year.

The main focus of the plan will be from December 17 to January 13.

Other elements include "winter ready" clinics in the community to treat groups who are at at risk.

There will be extended opening hours, and expanded services for local injury units and some primary care centres.

Irish Independent

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