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Home support sparks rapid recovery

With NHS services under pressure from growing demand and financial constraints, it is more important than ever that healthcare can be provided promptly and flexibly in people’s homes.

Birmingham Community Healthcare’s rapid response team provides urgent care within two hours in a patient’s home as a direct alternative to acute hospital admission – the preference of the vast majority of people.

When Bob Plimmer first noticed two insect bites on his legs, he had no reason to be worried. But, more than a week later, the tiny wounds had grown and the infection had spread dramatically.

Bob went to see his GP, whose first instinct was to send him straight to hospital.

Rapid response patient Bob Plimmer and advanced nurse practitioner Patrick Turbitt.

“Like most people, I didn’t particularly want to go to hospital but you accept that may be the best thing for you,” said the 74-year-old grandfather-of-five.

“But, after making the call, there was a change of plan and I was told to go back home and wait for the rapid response team to call.”

Bob’s GP practice had called Birmingham Community Healthcare’s combined access point – an integrated service co-ordinating urgent and non-urgent care across the city.

As a request for urgent care, the referral call was handled by a senior nurse in order that a professional-to-professional conversation could determine the best place of care for Bob.

“The key to the rapid response service is making sure that the patient can be seen promptly so that a clinical judgement can be made,” explained advanced nurse practitioner Patrick Turbitt.

“We offer the commitment that an advanced nurse practitioner will make that judgement in a patient’s own home within two hours of initial referral, when clinically appropriate.

“That enables us to assess their safety in their home environment and whether there may be any other support they may need. And we commit to reassess within 24 hours to make sure their clinical needs are being met.

“If our judgement is that those needs would be better met in a hospital, we will find them an inpatient bed.

“But it was clear Bob was well supported by his wife and so the overwhelming clinical judgement was that receiving care at home was the best option.”

Patrick explained that daily visits confirmed the initial assessment. In some cases, the rapid response team will hand over the care of a patient to community nurses and therapists once the situation has become less urgent.

But, for Bob, four daily visits from members of the rapid response team – not to mention the support of wife Patricia - was enough to provide assurance that the antibiotics had brought the infection under control.

“I can’t speak highly enough about this team,” said the lifelong Aston Villa supporter and grandfather-of-five, who worked for Midlands Electricity Board for 40 years. “All of them were genuine, patient and considerate of my needs and wishes.

“Whereas in a hospital everything can seem rushed, the rapid response team took the time to explain what they were doing and to make me feel I was in control of what was happening.

“It was a brilliant service and it’s very reassuring to know, at a time when the NHS is under a lot of pressure, that there are such dedicated nursing professionals working in our own communities keeping us safe and well.”