Better Care

Birmingham gran pays tribute to healthcare-at-home service cutting hospital admissions

`Joan Keenan reviewing her care plan with community nurse Sharon Dempsey

A Birmingham pensioner has paid tribute to a healthcare team that has turned her life around after a year of failing health and repeated hospital stays.

When Joan Keenan was diagnosed with a partially collapsed lung and pneumonia, she feared for the future.

A winter spent in and out of hospital had left her concerned whether she would be able to continue living independently in her Kingstanding home and spend time with her three children, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

But all that changed when her GP referred her to Birmingham Community Healthcare’s new integrated services for adults across the city who want to remain in their own homes and whose illnesses can be treated safely and efficiently using a blend of new technology and traditional care delivered flexibly by community-based teams of nurses and therapists.

An occupational therapist arranged the installation of fitted rails around her house and a step outside the door to help Joan go to and from the garden safely. Meanwhile, a physiotherapist helped her establish an exercise routine to help her breathing.

Joan was also supplied with state-of-the-art telemonitoring equipment which prompts her to measure blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels each day. The results are monitored remotely and, if there is cause for concern, an operator will ask her to repeat the tests then, if necessary, a community nurse will attend within a couple of hours.

Joan Keenan

“The support system that I’ve got in place now has made me a lot more relaxed,” says the 73-year-old great-grandmother.

“If I’m ever not well, I know the telemonitoring machine will come on at the same time each day and, if there’s anything to worry about, help won’t be far away. It’s given me my life back.”

Community nurse Sharon Dempsey said Joan is an excellent example of how flexible community-based healthcare can enable people to maintain active, independent lifestyles and ease pressure on hospital wards.

“A lot of hospital admissions are not emergencies and can be avoided if the patient has access to the right care and support in their own homes,” she said.

“It’s piece of mind for the patient and their family and gives me confidence, as a healthcare professional, that I have all the information I need about how my patients are from day to day. “