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Hospital strengthens links with care homes

18 February 2013

Health Care

Since taking up her appointment at Southend University Hospital last year, consultant community geriatrician Dr Leila Bafadhel, together with her consultant colleague Dr Sumathi Ragavan and Eastwood GP Dr Sarah Zaidi, has been on a quest to improve care for the elderly – both inside and outside hospital.

The latest mission has been to get together with local care home managers to establish a 'best practice' steering group so that communal care becomes less of a daunting prospect for the many hundreds of people who can no longer fend for themselves.

With the emphasis increasingly on health care in the community, such a close relationship with the care sector can help prevent elderly patients being admitted to hospital unnecessarily, while at the same time improving their everyday quality of life.

Dr Bafadhel said: "Moving from your own home to live in a care home is naturally a massive step for anyone to take. Elderly people fear it will mean loss of independence and purpose. But it can be a very stimulating and motivating experience - if the quality of care within the care home is good."

The best practice initiative has been enthusiastically received by many care home proprietors in south Essex. The inaugural meeting was chaired by community dementia specialist nurse, Jackie Smith, who regularly visits care homes and has been pivotal in getting the group together. Dr Bafadhel, who trained in Sheffield where there is a long-established community geriatric health service, added: "The ultimate goal is to drive up standards of elderly care.

"As part of the community geriatrics service and along with lead local GPs and professionals in the area, we are providing teaching on the so-called 'geriatric giants' - falls, continence, cognition, mood, nutrition and addressing the burden of multiple medications with associated side effects  - to care home managers and staff.  These multi-disciplinary inreach teams for care homes help to strengthen relationships between care homes, community specialists and the hospital.

The steering group will be meeting again on May 9.

Dr Bafadhel added: "We will be sharing more good ideas in line with the national 'My home life' project. The best practice steering group initiative is designed to help to try and prevent our frail elderly population from feeling isolated and to find the most effective way of engaging with them and with one another. The feedback from care home managers is that they felt lines of communication are beginning to be made. It sounds very simple, but we need to get it right."



With pic:Dr Leila Bafadhel (centre) with other members of the steering group