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Helping ambulance staff to care for people at home

22 December 2016

Emergency staff are benefiting from a collaborative approach on how best to care for patients out of hospital.

As part of work to develop services and expertise outside of traditional mental healthcare, West London Mental Health has been working closely with the London Ambulance Service to develop the awareness of intermediate care among paramedics and Ambulance staff.

West London Mental Health NHS Trust provides intermediate care in the community at Home ward Ealing and in the Community Independence Service in Hammersmith & Fulham. Both of these services are delivered through partnerships with other local organisations, and help people regain their independence and remain in their own homes following illness and/or injury, avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions.

The trust hosted an intermediate care study day at the Cassel Hospital for staff from the London Ambulance Service. The training allowed staff to learn from each other about their experiences of identifying patients who were suitable to receive care from out of hospital services, and what alternatives to admission are available, leaving hospital beds for those who most need them. Representatives from Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust also attended to describe the intermediate care options available in Hounslow, so that Ambulance staff who travel across geographical boundaries in the West London sector were able to meet the teams that they might wish to refer to.

Information about the trust’s Single Point of Access (SPA) 24/7 helpline was also provided, so ambulance staff would know who to contact if they need to make a mental health referral or access specialist advice.

This is one of a number of training days that West London Mental Health Trust has organised for the London Ambulance Service. Earlier this year the trust delivered a mental health training course to emergency staff, providing them with the right skills to treat people in crisis. After receiving the training, staff from the London Ambulance Service (LAS) have said they will “definitely be changing [their] practice”.

Dr Chris Hilton, director of business and strategy and lead for intermediate care, said: “It’s great that WLMHT are able to offer this training to our colleagues at the London Ambulance Service. There’s a lot our services can learn from each other, and closer working with ambulance staff will have a great impact on our ability to provide care at home for local people.

“Thank you to the London Ambulance Service and our friends from the Integrated Community Response Service in Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust for contributing to the programme. By working in partnership, we can deliver meaningful improvements to patients and the care they receive across the NHS.”

Feedback from the attendees described the day as “useful” and “fantastic” and that it was “good to be able to discuss with the people we refer to and make suggestions to improve [the pathways]”, and all attendees said they were likely to change their practice as a result of attending.

Dr Ruth Tinson, assistant medical director at the London Ambulance Service, said: “The training day was great, and all the hard work and enthusiasm was evident. On behalf of the Medical Directorate, I’d like to say that we are really pleased and encouraged seeing colleagues enthusiastic to both organise and participate in teaching.”