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West Kent team wins regional award for addressing the needs of vulnerable adults

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) received an award for its work on a scheme, commissioned by NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (WKCCG), to address the unmet social, medical, physiological and emotional needs of adults identified as frequent users of urgent care services, mainly in the two Accident and Emergency departments (A&E) at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospitals.

The team was presented with the NHS Parliamentary Award for their excellent work in Urgent and Emergency Care at an event in the House of Commons on 10 July.

The Frequent Users’ Service, which has been running since February 2017, is based on the High Intensity Users’ programme that originated in Blackpool and is now a national NHS Rightcare example of best practice.

Laura Bottle, Commissioning Manager at WK CCG explains: “The patients within the service often have a range of health and social needs, particularly pain, medically unexplained symptoms, substance misuse and mental health issues. Team members Jill Whibley and Philippa Brewer work on a one to one basis with each individual to find effective solutions and support patients.

“To do this, theywill usually visit patients in their own homes, or anywhere that they feel most comfortable. Having more time to listen to the patient’s story, helps build trust so that Jill and Philippa can get to the root of a patient’s problem much more quickly and find solutions.”

Areas that patients have asked for help include: decorating a room, rehousing, buying toiletries, joining a choir, referral to a doctor, benefit applications, support with addictions,  or linking them up with a voluntary group.

To relieve social isolation Jill and Philippa have also started various patient social groups including ‘knit and natter’ and a coffee morning – both are based in Maidstone.

All patients also have a phone number to contact, should a crisis situation occur. There is no formal discharge from the service, but it has been shown that contact naturally reduces over time, as the patients feel more empowered to take control of their situation.

So far, the service has helped nearly 110 patients, identified as being the highest users of urgent care services locally.  The results show that patients who have been in the service for at least a year have reduced their A&E attendance by an average of 68 per cent. 

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