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Celebration highlights the importance of community hospitals

One of the most satisfying moments of Annmarie Walchester’s career came when an elderly couple arrived at Moseley Hall Hospital on Christmas Eve.

The husband was suffering from dementia and was seen at the hospital’s Community Medical Assessment Unit (CMAU).

The aim of the CMAU is to provide a quick diagnosis of patients’ needs and prevent people from a potentially unnecessary admission to acute hospital care.

Clinical team leader Annmarie and her colleagues were able to make sure the pensioner and his wife, who was also his carer, were able to spend Christmas Day together at the hospital.

When it became clear he was too unwell to return home the team found a side room so that the devoted couple could stay together for Christmas. Sadly, he passed away in the New Year, so their time together over Christmas was particularly important.

“In an acute hospital the couple may not have been able to spend their last days together like that,” reflects Annmarie.

Having more time for patients and their families is one of the main benefits of working in a community hospital like Moseley she says.

“It’s relatively small and I find you can spend more time getting to know people. The staff are a close-knit team and we help each other out.

“It’s a more homely environment too. We have a nice lounge, garden and grounds which patients can use.”

Annmarie says Moseley is an innovative place to work and ideas from staff are welcomed.

“We’re always thinking about ways we can improve. At the moment we’re looking at how we can reduce the length of patients’ stay.”

Nursing staff work holistically with therapists, social workers and community groups to provide an all-round package of care tailored to patients’ individual needs.

The aim is to ensure people are cared for at home or in the community wherever possible, to enable them to quickly regain their independence and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

To speed up the patient’s pathway and ensure that each person has timely reviews, there are daily meetings to identify barriers which may prevent patients from being discharged and conference calls arranged with other agencies to share information.

As a result changes have been made and the average length of stay on the hospital’s geriatric ward, where Annmarie works, has fallen from 30 days to 18.

She says: “One thing we’ve changed is that patients now have much speedier access to a social worker, which is much better for the patient.

“What happens now is that we get our social worker colleagues involved earlier which means that by the time the patients are well enough to leave hospital they are ready to go.”

Annmarie enjoys the problem solving aspect of her job and the emphasis on career development.

Since arriving as a Band 5 qualified nurse from Selly Oak Hospital seven years ago she has worked her way up to Band 7. She is now acting up as the clinical team leader responsible for the CMAU and the hospital’s geriatric ward.

“We’re looking at a career development programme to help all the nurses improve their skills, and complement their existing learning and professional development opportunities,” Annmarie adds. 

AnnMarie Walchester and patient David Williams