A new service to improve older people’s experience of being a patient at Kettering General Hospital – especially during busy times - has just been launched.
The Age UK Northamptonshire Support Service is a team of paid support workers, and a co-ordinator, who will be working in the hospital’s A&E department, main ward blocks and Discharge Lounge.
The new service is one of the most comprehensive services provided by Age UK charities at a hospital anywhere in the country and will complement the work done by KGH’s own volunteers.
The Age UK Northamptonshire team will support the hospital by helping patients with a wide variety of non-clinical tasks ranging from getting cups of tea, filling in forms, and providing activities for dementia patients, to taking people home in Age UK Northamptonshire minibuses and checking they have everything they need.
The Support Workers will wear a bright yellow polo neck shirt with the Age UK Northamptonshire logo and will be on duty at the hospital’s busiest times seven days a week.
Age UK Northamptonshire Business Development Director, Sue Watts, said: “The new service will improve the patient experience at KGH by having specially-trained staff available to support the particular needs of older people.
“Coming into hospital can be a traumatic and confusing experience for some older people.
“Just having someone there who can spend time with you, provide some reassurance, who can hold your hand, who can get you a cup of tea, can make all the difference.
“Our support workers will be able to give patients that extra bit of time and support that busy clinical staff sometimes cannot provide straight away.
“We can also attend to some practical matters. For example we can source walking frames for people with mobility issues and we have two adapted mini-buses so that we can help take people home from hospital and settle them in once they are at home.
“These sorts of things can help prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital and also help speed up the discharge process for more vulnerable patients.”
Kettering General Hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, Jo Fawcus, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be involved in this ground-breaking initiative with Age UK Northamptonshire.
“The Trust’s Charitable Funds Committee has invested £65,000 in supporting the launch of this new project which will improve older people’s experience of our services, especially at busy times.
“At the end of the six month pilot period the Trust will then take the project’s funding on.
“We are sure the new initiative will provide an invaluable additional dimension to the care our staff, and our dedicated volunteers, provide for our patients.
“It will help us to discharge appropriate patients from A&E, from the wards and support the Discharge Lounge team.
“The Support Workers will also help patients living with dementia by doing simple things like doing a jigsaw puzzle with them while ward staff get on with their clinical duties.”
Support Worker Jade White, who started work at KGH last week, said: “I previously worked as a housekeeper at KGH and as a domiciliary worker and this new role seemed a great opportunity to spend more time helping patients – which is what I enjoy the most.
“Some of the older people you meet don’t have anyone and so they really appreciate that you have got time to talk to them, to bring them a cup of tea, and just be someone who is there for them.”
One of Jade’s patients, Marion Frost, from Corby, said: “I think this is a great idea. You see some of the older patients on the ward who get quite lonely if they don’t have a lot of family.
“Having someone there to bring them a cup of tea and have a chat is just great.”
There are 14 Age UK Northamptonshire Support Workers and a Co-ordinator who will be working at the hospital seven days a week.