Graduate Management Trainee explores the Enhanced Health in Care Homes Project23/01/2019

Looking after older people in residential care homes usually involves getting input from a lot of different specialists, like nurses, GPs, pharmacists and dieticians. Traditionally all these different healthcare professionals have worked separately to care for their patients, but this can be inefficient and lead to conflicting messages and overlaps in care.

North Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group (NHCCG) and the North Hampshire Alliance have been working together to fix this through the Enhanced Health in Care Homes Project – a revolutionary new way of approaching residential and nursing home care. Led by experienced former nurses, Chris Gunner and Beverley George, it brings together all of the different specialists in teams, so that they can work together to make sure that the care and advice given to residents is joined up and fulfils their needs.

Assistant Operational Services Manager for Women’s Health at Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust, Sally Manger, took some time out from her busy schedule to shadow Chris and Beverley for a day, as they went about delivering the Enhanced Health in Care Homes Project (EHCH). Sally is one of the extremely talented few applicants accepted for the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme, a two year fast-track through the NHS Leadership Academy, and is currently on a whirlwind tour of all things NHS.

Developing a solid understanding of local needs and working practices across the area is a core part of the placement for future leaders like Sally, giving her the opportunity to experience a wide range of healthcare services. It also allows her to see, from a patient’s point of view, how different decisions affect their experiences. Having ticked off a day out with an ambulance crew, watching an operation in theatre, shadowing 999 and NHS 111 call handlers, and spending time in a neonatal intensive care unit, we’re really pleased that Sally took the time to also make learning about EHCH a priority.

Talking about her experience, Sally said:

“I was lucky enough to shadow Chris Gunner and Beverley George from North Hampshire CCG on their work on the Enhanced Health in Care Homes Project, but before this I honestly did not have much idea of the range of services the CCG were involved in. I was really surprised by the innovative way the pilot was being carried out.

“Hearing more about the project throughout the day and how Chris and Beverley are engaging with homes was amazing – it’s wonderful to see two people so dedicated to the cause they’re working for. The multi-disciplinary team meeting, with all of the various specialists focused on a single resident, proved massively beneficial as the team got the chance to discuss the best approach for them and had all the experience and capability on hand to really get things moving to improve things for them.

“Having the time to work with individual patients in this way is becoming much rarer, but the project was really eye-opening and demonstrates how very valuable it is. Encouraging the home to explore one person’s issue in depth, frequently led to them coming up with solutions which were also applicable to many of the other residents. This has the potential to lead to real and positive change to the culture of homes, as well as enable more creative thinking about ways to improve quality of life in them.

“Having everyone meet together regularly also means that all kinds of issues get space for discussion that might previously have been missed. During one visit for example, the home’s manager brought up an issue relating to a man with Parkinson’s disease and his need for one to one care, which then prompted a wider conversation about the most appropriate environments for all the residents and how best to ensure their welfare.

“I was also surprised to hear that many homes have to manage the complexities of having up to ten different GPs caring for their residents. Keeping up with which resident is registered where and chasing round after all the different practices is a huge drain on the resources and morale of the care home staff, but EHCH means that each home has a single GP, the benefit of which seems immeasurable both to staff and residents.

“The time I spent with Chris and Beverley was the highlight of my shadowing experiences, and prompted me to think a lot more about cross-service working. It’s given me plenty of ideas and inspiration to take forward into my future career with the NHS.”