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Guide launched on how Allied Health Professionals can support care homes

AHPs can support a wide range of issues that can lead to hospitalisation and primary care referral

Published on 1st August 2019

Allied Health Professionals can support care homes with a wide range of issues that can lead to hospitalisation to reduce demand of those services, a report has suggested.

A report by NHS England and NHS Improvement 'Quick Guide: allied health professionals enhancing health for people in care homes' says that AHPs should consider multi-professional approaches to support for care homes with high levels of demand on NHS services.

"AHPs can support a wide range of issues that can lead to hospitalisation and primary care referral including malnutrition, dysphagia, falls and palliative care leading to reductions in demand," said the report.

Care homes should also review ease of access to AHP services. AHPs should support care homes to understand which AHP service they need, how to refer their residents and enable care homes to make referrals without intervention from primary care colleagues, which can help to free up limited primary care resources.

The report warns that there is variation in access criteria for care home residents compared to people livingin their own homes. This leads to people in care homes not always being able to access timely AHP services. It encourages health and social care commissioners and providers to review local commissioning arrangements and access to ensure clarity of responsibility and where referral thresholds exist, that these are appropriate.

The publication also outlines that care home residents can find it unsettling attending hospital or outpatient settings and it also creates pressure for care homes in providing an escort for their resident. AHP provider services are encouraged to review their processes for care home residents to ensure when attendance is necessary, disruption is minimised.

For example, there should be liaison between paramedics and medical imaging departments to ensure imaging is undertaken promptly which will ensure the care home resident to be taken straight home, or for therapeutic radiography preparatory medicines being delivered in the care home setting reducing the length of time the care home resident needed to be in the department.

This document also highlights a variety of examples of whole home approaches focussed on providing education and training in addition to one–to-one interventions.

It also suggests that care homes are supported to take structured approaches to common health issues to support demand management. "Through the integration of activities and interventions into the daily routines of care home residents, care homes can reduce the need for professional intervention," said the report.

The report also highlights NHS England’s Commissioning guidance for rehabilitation which provides evidence and examples of good practice, along with practical advice to commission good quality rehabilitation.

The report is a supporting publication for the AHPs into Action programme. It aims to support AHPs and service leaders to meet the priorities and ambitions for care home residents detailed in the NHS Long Term Plan.

Julia Scott, RCOT Chief Executive said: “Occupational therapists alongside other Allied Health Professionals play a key role in making sure residents of care homes receive the best possible care, and the Royal College advised on some of the key areas of the guide. Our recent ‘Care Homes and Equipment’ guide assists occupational therapists with helping to implement the timely provision of equipment and improve the quality of life for residents.

“Improving healthcare in care homes is a vital part of the NHS Long Term Plan and the new guide focuses on the best practice of nutrition and hydration, end of life and dementia care and rehabilitation and reablement. These are areas where occupational therapists play an important role," she concluded.

'Quick Guide: allied health professionals enhancing health for people in care homes'

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