08 November 2011

Anyone who has suffered a fall at home will know how upsetting and frightening it can be, particularly if it is impossible to move without assistance from the emergency ambulance service.

Having a fall is the top reason why people make a 999 call to East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS). For some this may result in a hospital admission but for many it is unnecessary and they can be safely cared for in their own home.

Working in partnership - Northamptonshire County Council, EMAS and the Community Elderly Care Service have developed a new service designed to prevent unnecessary admission to hospital and to provide support and reassurance to people immediately after a fall.

The service is funded through monies from the Department of Health designed to stimulate social care services which deliver health outcomes. This is one of a range of projects designed to deliver care to people in familiar surroundings.

The new Crisis Response Service will see local people being attended by a specialist falls ambulance and crew. As well as providing a more appropriate service this will free up vital ambulance resources to respond to calls from people with life-threatening conditions.

The benefits from the service which goes live on Monday 14 November include:

  • A specialist ambulance crew including a paramedic responding to people who have called 999 after suffering a fall
  • A response in a specialist vehicle which contains a wide range of lifting equipment and is capable of transporting bariatric patients
  • A faster response so the person spends less time in the position in which they fell
  • People will then have access to a range of community support teams offering support immediately after the fall and advice into the future as to how to avoid recurrent falls.
  • Where someone is unsafe to leave at home but do not require admission to hospital the team will
    have access to specialist care centres.
  • As well as reducing the trauma for the individual the new service will provide value for money

EMAS Clinical Quality Manager and Paramedic, Mark Gregory, said: “This new service is a team set up to respond purely to people who have fallen at home in Northamptonshire, to provide dignity and appropriate care to the patients.

“After calling 999 and being identified as a faller without a life-threatening illness or injury, they will receive a response from our Crisis Response team in their falls vehicle which has a wide range of specialist lifting equipment.

“The crews have attended the University of Northampton and developed skills in the assessment and management of falls, allowing them to provide optimal care for older patients. One of the team members is a qualified paramedic and so if the patients condition does worsen they are able to receive further treatment on scene.

“Calls for life-threatening emergencies always take priority for an emergency ambulance response, and so the introduction of the Crisis Response Service means that a faller will receive a faster response and spend less time in the position where they fell, avoiding injuries or distress caused as a result of being left for a prolonged period.”

Northamptonshire County Council is leading the development of this service, and is providing care workers who will be delivering practical support immediately after a fall and a technician to allow the council to install Telecare equipment within 24 hours for people who would benefit from it. This element of the service will operate 365 days a year.

Two specialist vehicles have been purchased by Northamptonshire County Council to transport the crew and equipment at a cost of £195k and £1.1 million funds the care support workers.

The Crisis Response Service will complement the Community Elderly Care Service launched earlier this year and is part of the county’s overall drive to deliver more care to older people in their own homes or in as non-clinical a setting as possible.

Cabinet member for health and adult social services Councillor Robin Brown from Northamptonshire County Council said: “The Crisis Response Service is a great example of health and social care working in partnership to make a positive difference to local people.

“As well as providing a faster response and specialist care we will be giving older people who have had a fall an opportunity to remain independent and safe in their own homes rather than having the trauma of going to hospital unnecessarily.”

Using past 999 call data, EMAS was able to identify peak times when emergency calls are received from people who have had a fall. This allowed EMAS with Northamptonshire County Council to design and provide the service to meet the needs of some of the older citizens in Northamptonshire.

This service is one of a range of initiatives in the last year designed to prevent unnecessary admission to hospital and ensure more choice and control for vulnerable older people and their carers.