Top award for hospital’s elderly care project

An innovative and ambitious Bradford hospitals’ project aimed at improving care of the elderly, has won a major national award.

The Bradford Elderly Care Virtual Ward was named a winner in the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Value in Healthcare Awards 2017, in the ‘Improving Value in the Care of Frail Older Patients’ category.

The prestigious awards’ ceremony was held in London on Wednesday, when judges described the project as ‘an excellent example of highly functioning integrated health and social care service.’

HSJ award for Elderly Care Virtual wardThis year saw fierce competition for these coveted awards with over 400 entries – and just  20 winners announced.

The Bradford Elderly Care Virtual Ward is aimed at simultaneously moving care closer to home, whilst enabling more patient-centred care, and it has been developed by Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust along with NHS Bradford City and NHS Bradford Districts Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Bradford Council’s Adult Services.

It provides a single point of access for GPs, staff in the community and other health and social care professionals to refer patients from the Bradford district into all intermediate care.

This includes short-term hospital beds and services that give patients support to stay in their own homes, rather than being admitted to hospital.

It is run by health and social care staff who will have an overview of capacity across the district.

The Trust’s Lead Consultant Geriatrician and Director of Elderly Care, Maj Pushpangadan said: “We are absolutely thrilled to win the award and for the project to be recognised in this way.

“Research tells us that when it comes to treating older people, the best place to care for them is in the comfort of their own homes.

“This new hub represents an exciting development in elderly care as it brings together health and social care professionals from across the district in one centre, all working together for the benefit of our patients, with the overall aim of providing a co-ordinated, personalised service which prevents needless emergency admissions to our hospitals. This leaves more of our beds available for those most critically ill.” 

Dr Pushpangadan explained that the Bradford Elderly Care Virtual Ward began in 2012 as a discharge-to-assess model, relying from the outset on working together across organisational boundaries of health and social care teams. The team is multidisciplinary, comprising therapists, qualified nurses, advanced nurse practitioners, rehabilitation support workers, local authority colleagues and consultant geriatrician input.

In 2015 the team developed an integrated hub with partners, and new pathways taking direct referrals from community matrons, GPs and local ambulance services. Within hours, on any day of the week, the hub can escalate community support, initiate rehabilitation-at-home, or directly admit to community hospital rehabilitation or a nursing home flexi-bed.

“Multiple hospital admissions have been entirely prevented, and length of stay in hospital has been further reduced. As a result, Bradford Teaching Hospitals is now in the top 5 per cent of trusts across the country for shortest length of stay.

“More importantly the Trust has also demonstrated significant improvements in patient quality of life and high rates of patient satisfaction,” added Dr Pushpangadan.

In awarding the honour, judges said: “This is an excellent example of highly functioning integrated health and social care service. Its multi-skilled team including social care staff used clear data to demonstrate improvement in quantitative data and patient experience.”

Lead Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Elderly and Intermediate Care, Andrea Allanach added: “Whilst only a few of us were able to attend the ceremony, it must be remembered that it is the hard work of the whole team that has achieved this award. Without the whole team’s commitment, care and compassion our success in improving care for frail older people in Bradford would not have been possible.”

The Trust’s Chief Executive, Professor Clive Kay said: “I’d like to congratulate Dr Pushpangadan and his team on this very well-deserved success. Not only do they provide an outstanding service but such achievements continue to help put BTHFT 'on the map'.

“This is just recognition for the team's superb efforts over many years in providing truly multi-disciplinary patient-centred care.”