A community ward is being run inside Maidstone Hospital to help older people recover faster, as part of an initiative involving Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust.
Kent Community Health NHS Trust has opened a 22-bed ward to help rehabilitate patients with complex needs more quickly, in collaboration with the acute trust, NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group and Kent County Council.
The pilot project was launched in December to increase the amount of care available in the community.
The ward mainly helps older patients who have been treated on an acute ward after fractures, chest infections, urinary tract infections and other serious illnesses. The patients are medically fit, but need rehabilitation to regain their independence.
Ward staff include a senior community nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, plus a ward manager, nurses and healthcare assistants from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust. Case managers from Kent County Council’s Social Services also form part of the team.
So far, the pilot project has helped patients to return home after two weeks and freed up acute beds.
Community matron Maggie Powell, who is jointly leading the project, said: “We’ve run this pilot at the busiest time of the year and at the moment, the average length of stay for a patient is 14 days.
“We will keep evaluating the results until the end of the pilot but so far, it’s really proven its worth.”
She added: “Patients are offered short-term support upon discharge home to help them learn or relearn everyday skills, for example regaining confidence after a fall or learning to prepare meals following a change in circumstances. Support is also offered to family carers.”
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