Care Scheme Gives Personal Touch

WHEN Colin Parker fell dangerously ill earlier this year after picking up an infection following knee replacement surgery, the intensive package of care he received at home in Croesyceiliog prevented him having to go back into hospital.

The 84-year-old former mathematician is this year among 1,200 patients to benefit from the expertise offered by Torfaen-based ACAT (Advanced Clinical Assessment Team), which works with GPs, district nurses and social services.

Almost 1,000 of these patients would have had to be readmitted to hospital without ACAT support, and the team’s work in reducing the burden unnecessary admissions has scooped a Bupa Foundation Care Award. The charity supports medical research, the award recognises excellence in medical research and healthcare.

ACAT is the brainchild of Professor Bhim Bhowmick, clinical director of intermediate care services in Torfaen, who said the aim is to provide older people with choices about where, when and from whom they receive their healthcare.

“We know older people living in Torfaen don’t want to go to hospital for treatment unless it’s absolutely necessary, but we are also aware these are the very people who can fall between the gaps of traditional care provision,” he said.

“With ACAT we can offer expert assessment, diagnostics and treatment in the patient’s home on the day of referral.

Almost all referrals to ACAT are from GPs, who remain responsible for the patient and are fully informed of treatments.

ACAT assessors attend a patient’s home one-12 hours after referral and care is managed at home for 24 hours to two weeks, depending on the complexity of the patient’s needs.

Professor Bhowmick operates what he calls a “virtual ward round” every day, through which patients cared for by the team have needs and treatment options discussed, and care plans formed.

“Without ACAT, Colin would have gone back into hospital and that’s the last thing we wanted, said Mrs Parker, 73.

“As well as the medical input, we were impressed by the respect and dignity they brought with them. Too often you get the feeling that as old people, you are treated as if you are an idiot, but there was none of that. They were tremendous.

“I just hope this service can be provided to people in other areas because it is only available in Torfaen at the moment.”