A hospice in Darlington has launched a unique emergency telephone service to help reduce hospital admissions for palliative care patients.
St Teresa’s is the first hospice in the north east to be added to the NHS Directory of Services (DoS) enabling local 999 and 111 calls to be referred to its in-house Rapid Response Service. Calls to 111 are triaged by call-handlers and clinicians using the NHS Pathway system with patient information used to establish if the Rapid Response Team would be the most appropriate service for the patient.
The service, which offers 24/7 provision, 365 days a year, responds to patients registered with a Darlington GP within an hour of their call providing palliative nursing care, symptom management, crisis management and pain relief, as well as a hand to hold and a listening ear.
Head of care at St Teresa’s Hospice Alison Marshall said:
“Under the former system palliative care patients in Darlington dialling 999 or 111 would often have an ambulance dispatched and be inappropriately admitted to hospital, when what they may actually need is a visit from our Rapid Response Team.
“This may be because they are distressed during the night and need reassurance or emotional support. Some may require pain relief or may have become disorientated while others may just need help to and from the bathroom. These are all things that our Rapid Response Team is there to assist with within an hour of receiving a call.
“The new DoS service ensures that palliative care patients in Darlington receive appropriate care in a timely manner, from basic support to complex symptom management, and we will also hopefully see a significant reduction in inappropriate admissions to hospital.
“It feels incredible to be pioneering this new system which is all about supporting patients and families in the most effective way.
“We will monitor the service, reviewing the number of calls coming through the system, with a view, potentially, to expanding the team in the future and sourcing additional funding if demand is high.
“We have had massive success with our Rapid Response service over the past three years and moving forward this is a really exciting development for everyone at St Teresa’s.”
For more information visit St Teresa’s Hospice