NHS 111 has a specialist service for care home staff providing urgent advice and care for their residents.
The service launched in August 2018 and since then more than 100 care homes in NW London have taken advantage of the quick access to clinical support, with around 3000 calls being received so far.
The service was set up to ensure that care home staff can get quick access to clinical advice for their residents and help prevent unnecessary ambulance attendances and hospital admissions.
Clinical lead for the NW London programme Dr Tim Spicer CCG said: “There is a lot of responsibility for care home staff to support their residents when they are unwell.
“The people they care for often have lots of complex needs and getting the right support and advice fast can make a real difference to how quickly they recover and receive the care they need.
“Calling 999 and taking an elderly or frail resident to A&E is not always the right thing to do and sometimes care home staff can’t get hold of a resident’s GP straight away.”
The 111 support line gives care home staff immediate access to advice from a clinician, ensuring that the right care can be given in the right place. This could be in the care home, in a local clinic or being taken to hospital.
The service rapidly responds to care home staff to put them through to a clinician and operates 24 hours a day.
Dr Chris Hilton Clinical Director for Integrated Care Services at West London NHS Trust added: “We are really pleased to see that by February 2019, the service was receiving 300 calls per month with 80% of queries being resolved without the patient needing to be referred to hospital. This is a great example of technology supporting our work to help people in the community and reducing unnecessary visits to hospital.”
Dr Simon Douglass, LCW’s Medical Director added: "For those residents that have become too unwell to stay at home following a clinical assessment, the most appropriate care to meet their needs can be quickly organised”
In addition to the service, the NHS and local authority in NW London are also trialing video consultations.
Care homes taking part in the video consultation initiative have been issued with mobile tablets that can use video conferencing .This is linked to the dedicated service and to some GP practices.