A new integrated approach to delivering health and social care in South Tyneside is proving a hit with both patients and experienced nurses, according to the organisations behind the scheme.
Neighbourhood teams of district nurses, community matrons, social workers and therapists have been set up in Hebburn and Jarrow.
One nurse acts as a care co-ordinator for each patient and the teams work closely with local GP surgeries.
The idea behind the new approach is to enable more people to stay in their own home.
Maria Purdy, who has been a district nurse for 27 years, said: “I’ve never worked in such an integrated way before. We are able to serve the local community so much more effectively.
“The improvements that I have seen on the ground are really phenomenal,” she said. “We are able to care for people and make referrals far more quickly and care for people in their own home, if that is their wish, which is important for the health service, but also incredibly important for the patient.”
“I’ve worked in district nursing for 27 years but I’ve never worked in such an integrated way before”
The integrated teams have been established by South Tyneside Council, NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and local voluntary organisations.
Councillor Mary Butler, lead member for Adult Social Care and Support Services, said: “By having just one contact who is able to organise care from a number of sources, we are succeeding in helping… at a time when care and advice needs to be swift and appropriate.”
Dr Matthew Walmsley, chair of NHS South Tyneside CCG, said: “Feedback from patients so far has been overwhelmingly positive.”
The team has been praised by Nicola Bamling, a carer for her 59-year-old mother who has multiple sclerosis and has lived independently in her own home.
She was admitted earlier this year with a urinary tract infection and when she came home was unable to care for herself or be left alone.
Ms Bamling said: “I called the district nurse who has been seeing my mum on a weekly basis for years and she sorted everything out. I only had to make one phone call.”
Social workers gave the family immediate advice on how to find a carer while occupational therapists investigated ways that mobile technology could be used to enhance independence.