Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Acute care at home to be rolled out in south Armagh

The Southern Trust’s ‘Acute Care at Home’ service, the first Consultant Geriatrician Led service of its kind in Northern Ireland,  is now available to older people in the Newry and Mourne area and will soon be rolled out in south Armagh. 

The Acute Care at Home team aims to respond to referrals from GPs, Northern Ireland Ambulance service and local hospitals within just a few hours.

With the same access to diagnostic and laboratory services as in a hospital setting, the team can treat patients over the age of 65 with a wide range of acute illnesses in residential, nursing or patients own homes.   They also have  access to mobile diagnostic equipment to carry out scans, take blood tests or organise other diagnostic investigations and treat a range of conditions like  chest infections, pneumonia or dehydration in patients own homes.

The Acute Care at Home service has been expanding across the Southern area since it was originally set up as a pilot in 2014. To date it has prevented around 4,050 hospital admissions and supported earlier discharge for over 1,400 people.

Currently available to suitable patients in Newry City, Mayobridge, Hilltown, Rathfriland and Bessbrook, the next phase will see the service extended to south Armagh and Kilkeel.

As Lead Consultant Geriatrician for the service, Dr Patricia McCaffrey, explains, 

“A hospital admission can be traumatic and disruptive for anyone, but particularly for an older person who may be less mobile, or for those who have dementia. 

Some of the Acute Care at Home Team with Gerry McAleenan and his wife Josie from Newry- Dr Daithi Fitzpatrick, Specialist Nurse, Fiona Towe, Physiotherapist, Niamh Canavan and Yvonne Murphy, Manager.

“Through the Acute Care at Home service, we are transforming the way we offer unscheduled care to our increasing number of older residents who are living with more complex needs. We hope that by offering high quality care their own home environment, we will promote a better quality of life for our older population, avoiding more stressful admissions to our very busy acute hospitals when it is safe to do so.”

Gerry McAleenan from Newry who has a chest condition has used the service on a number of occasions. He has nothing but praise for the initiative. 

“I can’t thank the Acute Care at Home team enough as I would not be here if it wasn’t for them,” he said.

“I have such confidence in the service and all the staff as they cared for me so well.  I have told my GP that I don’t want to go to hospital but to always be treated by the team.  My family are so grateful. The staff took the time to treat me, everyone was so professional and caring and I have never experienced anything like it.” 

The Acute Care at Home team includes Consultant Geriatricians, Speciality Doctors, Specialist Nurses, Staff Nurses and Health Care Assistants, Pharmacists , Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists  and  works closely with many other Community Services.

The service is funded by the Southern Local Commissioning Group and supported by the Southern Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs).

Gerry McAleenan and his wife Josie from Newry.