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Duchess of Northumberland opens pioneering health and social care scheme

Monday, 16 March, 2015
Duchess of Northumberland opens pioneering health and social care scheme

A pioneering integrated health and social care scheme in the heart of rural Northumberland has today (Monday 16 March) been officially opened by The Duchess of Northumberland, the Lord Lieutenant of the county.

Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have worked in partnership to build the innovative £4.6m development in Haltwhistle which opened to patients and residents last year.

It is one of the first facilities of its kind in the country to provide hospital and social care support under one roof and is a prime example of how Northumberland is leading the way nationally to provide integrated care for patients.

The opening comes a week after NHS England announced that Northumberland has been chosen to take a national lead on transforming care for patients.

In recognition of work over many years to integrate health and social care in one of the most rural counties in England, Northumbria Healthcare has been chosen to lead work with partners to deliver an integrated primary and acute care system (PACS) for the county. 

When opening the scheme in Haltwhistle, the Duchess met residents who live in Greenholme Court, the 12 purpose-designed extra-care flats which have been funded and developed by the county council, and patients and staff at Northumbria Healthcare’s Haltwhistle War Memorial Hospital which delivers care closer to people’s homes.

The development also has a community room with kitchen and dining area where a day club is held. Local residents have the opportunity to book the community room for a range of other activities.

The Duchess of Northumberland, the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, said: “I am delighted to officially open this fantastic facility which has health and social care under one roof and see first-hand the benefits it is bringing to people in the Haltwhistle area.

“To see patients receiving expert hospital care closer to home and having the support they need to live independently in their own communities is truly excellent and is credit to everyone who has worked so hard over the years to complete this development.

“It is also most pleasing to hear that the facility is benefiting the wider community through the day club and community space.

“The scheme is an excellent example of organisations working together to deliver real benefits for patients and it is a privilege to play a small part in work which is leading the way nationally.”

The extra-care flats on the ground floor offer the opportunity for individuals and couples to live independently whilst receiving individually-tailored levels of on-site care in a safe and friendly environment. They are run by arms-length management organisation Homes for Northumberland which provides housing services for the county council.

Councillor Scott Dickinson, chair of Northumberland’s Health & Wellbeing board, said: “The scheme is an example of partnership working at its best and has proved an original solution to improve health and social care services in this small, rural community.

“It provides first-class care for local residents in a great location in the town, enabling them to remain within their own communities with the right support in place.

“The flats have made such a difference to the residents and we believe  the scheme is one of the best facilities of its kind in the UK.

“We would like to thank the Duchess for taking the time to meet the residents and officially open the facility.”

The multi-disciplinary hospital team provides support and rehabilitation including occupational therapy and physiotherapy for elderly patients and palliative care for those approaching the end of life.

The team liaises with community and social care colleagues to ensure seamless care when patients are discharged from hospital.

Medical input into patients’ care is provided by Dr Paul Edmonds who is based at Hexham General Hospital and in a further example of integration, GPs at Haltwhistle Medical Centre visit the ward every weekday.

The 15 beds on the first floor are arranged in two four-bed bays and seven single en-suite rooms offering the utmost privacy and dignity with one room specially adapted for bariatric patients.

A minor injuries service runs from the hospital, 9am to 5pm, every day.

Dr Derek Thomson, medical director at Northumbria Healthcare and a Haltwhistle GP, said: “We are pleased that the Duchess of Northumberland was able to open our excellent facility today.

“The purpose-built hospital is a marked improvement from the original war memorial hospital and enables us to provide the best care for our patients, while improving their experiences.

“Particularly in rural areas, it’s so important for patients to be able to receive care closer to home and we’ve received extremely positive feedback from them and their relatives about the new hospital.

“We’re passionate about working in partnership to ensure integrated health and social care for our local communities and this scheme is an excellent example of us delivering on that commitment to benefit residents.”

Flats change Yvonne and Melvin’s lives

At the opening, The Duchess of Northumberland met Yvonne and Melvin Batey who live in one of the two-bedroom flats in Greenholme Court.

Yvonne, 74, and Melvin, 75, lived on the outskirts of Haltwhistle for almost 40 years before moving into their new home in the facility last summer.

Melvin suffered a stroke 10 years ago and as a result is unable to walk or talk so the flat with full disabled access is perfect for them.

Yvonne said:  “We absolutely love the place. It felt like home almost from the moment we moved in and has definitely changed both our lives for the better.

“We have a beautiful outlook and the other residents are really friendly. We mix and socialise together but we also have privacy if we want it.

“Our apartment looks over the hospital grounds and Melvin enjoys sitting there enjoying the flowers, and watching the birds and people coming and going. It’s an ideal spot and with the shops being right on our doorstep, I can easily walk into town.”

The couple are two of 14 residents who live in the scheme. 

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