‘Enhanced Care Home Scheme’ reduced GP Call-Outs
Our recent article outlined the new healthcare model for care homes – EHCH or Enhanced Health in Care Homes – that was to be trialled in the Leeds area. This pilot programme has now been completed, and the results are very encouraging for care homes throughout the country.
Enhanced Health in Care Homes
The programme, which commenced in August 2015, involved 50 care homes and 1,500 residents who were provided with regular access to healthcare professionals by scheduling pre-planned visits by nurses or GPs to each home.
NHS England announced the results of the scheme, which aims to focus more on prevention than on GPs having to react to problems as they arise. In addition to a reduction in unscheduled visits by GPs to the residential care homes, care home residents had a 4.3% reduction in emergency admissions to hospital and 4.7% fewer attendances at A&E departments during the programme. 76% of the referrals were written by care home staff, and the scheme has certainly improved healthcare for residents in residential and private care homes.
The GP-led scheme was initially developed by Dr Keith Miller, a Headingly GP who claimed that it ensures better joint working by those healthcare professionals who are responsible for the care of older people in residential care homes in Leeds and the surrounding areas. Care homes are paired with particular GP practices, which was a concern initially since it may conflict with patient choice. However, the results of the pilot scheme show that it works well for all concerned. Care home staff are also benefiting from the new skills and knowledge that the visiting healthcare professionals provide, and residents are less likely to need to attend hospitals than they were formerly.
In addition to having regular access to nurses and GPs, patients also benefit from access to other members of the multidisciplinary team such as dieticians and physiotherapists.
The pilot programme is being funded until August 2017 by Leeds West CCG.
The improvements in the quality of life experienced by care home residents will hopefully be rolled out to other areas around the country. NHS England says that GPs would be expected to carry out weekly care home rounds that are believed to enhance primary care support. The results for residents identified so far include a reduction in prescribing costs, fewer ambulance journeys, a reduction in falls and fewer admissions to hospital that could have been avoided.
Promoting enhanced health in care homes can help to maximise the independence of residents and make their lives more enjoyable and comfortable. Similar schemes have been used in certain care homes, especially in rural areas, in the past, and many care home professionals believe them to be very valuable in reducing emergency admissions and home visits.