A North East NHS Trust has been shortlisted for a national award for its work to improve the patient experience for older people who use inpatient mental health services.
The Pathway Support programme for Older People’s Inpatient Services South of Tyne at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) has been named as a finalist for the Health Service Journal (HSJ)’s 2019 Patient Safety Awards in the Improving Care for Older People category.
Based at Monkwearmouth Hospital in Sunderland, the Pathway Support programme was set up in order to reduce extended lengths of stay and delays to patients being discharged due to blockages in the ‘flow’ of care between different NHS and social care services.
Since being set up in late 2017 the programme has reduced average lengths of stay by 30% and driven a reduction in average bed occupancy by 50%.
As part of the Pathway Support initiative two new staff roles – a senior nurse and a social worker – were specifically created to smooth the flow of care between services.
The full-time roles are dedicated to supporting existing clinicians and social workers to operate more collaboratively and promptly, while always putting service users at the centre of care.
We identified that an injection of focused resources could unblock hotspots in patient ‘journeys’ to help patients move through the stages of their care quicker and avoid unnecessary delays and costs due to waiting times.
By supporting our clinical staff to be better informed, supported and empowered to work more collaboratively with local social care providers we have significantly reduced unnecessarily delayed stays within inpatient care, improving the experience for our patients.
Our success is down to the dedication and care of all the Older People’s Inpatient Services staff, and we’re extremely proud to have been shortlisted for this award.Rob BaileyNurse Consultant for NTW Older People’s Inpatient Services South of Tyne
As well as supporting staff to work more collaboratively with social services, the two new dedicated roles in the Pathway Support programme also provided a staff resource on hand to problem-solve individual difficulties and avoid unexpected problems which could lengthen the stay of patients within inpatient mental health care.
The programme was initially run as a pilot project but the success of its approach has led to the Trust funding the two posts permanently.
The HSJ Patient Safety Awards recognise, reward and thank healthcare services, teams and individuals who put the safety of patients first. The Improving Care for Older People awards category celebrates and recognises organisations acting to provide consistently safe, high quality care to older people.
To be shortlisted as finalists, entries had to score against five criteria: ambition, outcomes, ‘spread’ or potential elsewhere, value for the patient experience, and ‘involvement’ – how teams have worked to engage patients, families, staff and carers.
Members of the Pathway Support team will now present their programme later this month to a panel of expert judges in London, before the winners are announced at the Patient Safety Awards ceremony in Manchester on Tuesday 2 July.
NTW provides mental health and disability services across the North East of England. The Trust won the HSJ’s ‘Provider of the Year’ in 2017, and its Personality Disorder Hub won the Patient Safety category of last year’s main HSJ Awards.