Two clinical commissioning groups in Staffordshire have appointed a matron on a temporary basis to work with 20 local care homes in order to help reduce avoidable hospital admissions.
Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group and North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group have announced they are employing a new “care home matron” for a 12-month project.
“We are hoping to achieve at least a 10 per cent reduction in attendance and admissions to hospital”
The holder of the new post is intended to support staff, and improve care practice and the health of patients at 20 homes across the region.
Key aims included reducing unplanned hospital admissions by 10 per cent among care home residents and improving workforce recruitment and retention via education and support, said the commissioners.
They acknowledged that it could be difficult to “recruit, train and retain” staff with the appropriate skills in the sector, and senior nurses were needed to offer support with training and education.
They also noted levels of unplanned admissions had increased locally. An audit at Royal Stoke Hospital of admissions from care homes across the region revealed that half could have been avoided if staff acted upon the signs of health deterioration in a timely manner.
Tracey Shewan, director of nursing and quality for the two CCGs, said reducing emergency admissions via a better awareness of “appropriate care” would keep patients out of hospital, providing a better experience and cutting demand on services.
“We are hoping to achieve at least a 10 per cent reduction in attendance and admissions to hospital over the course of the year, and will be asking care homes to give us feedback on the effectiveness of the support and education they have received,” she said.
The matron, a senior frailty specialist nurse, will begin work this month and will offer members of staff daily face-to-face contact, education and leadership.
She will develop a training and competency package, which can be applied across care homes, said the two CCGs.
The commissioners said the matron would also work closely with staff to promote the prevention of “avoidable harms” such as pressure ulcers, falls and urinary tract infections in patients with catheters.
New matron role to work with 20 Midlands care homes
In addition, they said the post-holder would work with care homes to “improve their confidence” in the greater use of forward care planning to ensure patients’ wishes at the end of life were met.
A spokesman for the CCGs told Nursing Times that Esther Whitton had been appointed to the role and was beginning her new job this week. He added that there was scope to extend the post beyond a year, depending on its success and available funding.
“The role is initially for 12 months and it is funded for that period, but its effectiveness is being monitored and there is a possibility that it will be extended if it proves to be successful,” he said.
Ms Shewan added: “The new role of care home matron will be an important step in ensuring that elderly patients living in care homes in Stoke and North Staffordshire receive the safe and high quality healthcare they deserve.”
The CCGs also highlighted that they had developed a new care home strategy in recognition that residents had increasing demands and needed more complex care as life expectancy increases.