A new way of treating frail and some older people at the Emergency Department (ED) is being piloted in Reading to provide them with a separate, quieter more spacious area and easier access to specialist care.
The month long pilot starts today (Tuesday 4th) at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and is for some people aged over 80 and others who are potentially frail. It’s aimed at reducing the number of times these patients have to be moved around ED as they are being assessed to determine their best course of treatment. It’s hoped this will ease the confusion and disorientation older people can often experience during a visit to ED.
Space has been set aside for the new Older Person Emergency Department which is less busy, quieter and has easier access to bathrooms. There will be a range of health professionals staffing the area including an Occupational Therapist and Frailty Practitioner, ED nurses, doctors and health support workers. They will be supported by an Elderly Care Consultant/Registrar.
Older people and people living with frailty will be directed to the special area after they’ve had the routine tests like bloods and ECG if it’s felt this is the most appropriate way to continue their treatment.
Dr Zac Etheridge, Consultant Geriatrician and Clinical Lead for Acute Medicine at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: “this is the next step in our ambitious work to improve and transform the way we offer services to our community.
“ED can be an extremely busy and noisy area. We know people in their 80s and older, and others who are living with frailty, may find this activity very disconcerting, causing confusion or worsening their health problems”, he added.
“We hope the separate area will also help ease pressure on the teams working elsewhere in ED. Attendances have picked up as we move out of the acute COVID stage and we’d urge everyone to remember the range of alternative options they can consider before they come to hospital.
“There’s the new Ask A&E online symptom checker, the NHS 111 online service, along with pharmacists and GPs who are available for triage and face to face appointments when needed,” said Dr Etheridge.