Nurse Practitioner, Jen Whitaker, talks about her role caring for older people at home at risk hospital admission and how being shortlisted for a national award has boosted team spirits.
I am a nurse practitioner within CARE Point, a large team of health and social care staff from the trust and North Tyneside Council. We work together to improve care for frail, elderly patients to prevent unnecessary admission to hospital and long-term care, and facilitate timely discharges from hospital.
I see patients living in North Tyneside with acute minor injuries and illness and housebound patients who need urgent care. The majority of referrals come from GPs but care homes, sheltered accommodation and other healthcare professionals including district nurses also contact us directly.
We offer a same day response seven days a week from 8am to 8pm. Nurse practitioners have advanced clinical skills and we can prescribe medication, like antibiotics, so we can offer additional specialist support at home too to prevent an admission to hospital or long term care.
The team typically responds to GP referrals within 2 hours (depending on referrals that day). We can sign post to other services in CARE Point like physio, occupational therapy and social care the same day which can often result in a hospital admission being prevented.
We often see patients who have lower respiratory tract infection – who need prompt assessment and prescribing to treat the infection before it becomes worse and leads to further illness such as pneumonia or sepsis.
Working over the weekend also helps to prevent admissions as patients don’t need to wait to Monday to get an appointment with their GP if their condition worsens and if someone falls we can go out to see them straight away. If this service was not available the only option is to call an ambulance.
This year has been very different with the challenge of the pandemic. We have seen some patients in the community who have been really poorly. After the first wave we were receiving referral for patients who had been unwell for weeks but had not asked for help. This unfortunately resulted in some unavoidable admissions. The key thing to remember is the NHS is still here for you when you need us!
What I love about my job is feeling like we can really make a difference to our patients’ lives when they need it the most as well as relieving some of the pressures from GPs’ workloads. Often we can effectively see treat and discharge patients successfully that GPs would otherwise have had to see.
We are an extremely supportive team and being part of the wider CARE Point team offers great learning opportunities and chance for joint working not only with NHS staff but North Tyneside Council social workers too.
I’m delighted that we’ve been shortlisted for the ‘Health and Local Government Partnership Award’ at the 2020 HSJ Awards which recognises our collaborative approach and contribution to healthcare.
To be chosen as a finalist from more than 1,000 entries is a wonderful achievement. The whole team play a huge part in facilitating patients being discharged from hospital at the earliest opportunity and keeping people safe and well at home.
We also keep many patients out of hospital which eases pressures on A&E. The team is unique and offers a huge mix of clinical and non-clinical expertise. CARE Point has proved that health and social teams working together is essential and we are proud of the services we can offer residents across North Tyneside.