A revolutionary local healthcare service is celebrating two years in operation.
Extensive Care, a community-based service which provides dedicated care for people who are aged 60 or older and living with two or more long-term conditions, such as diabetes or heart problems, was the first of its kind in the country when launched back in June 2015.
Now, two years on, the service has cared for more than 2,000 local people, with many satisfied patients having spoken openly about their hugely positive experience with the team.
The service sees a range of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare staff all working together in one harmonised team to support those people who often need the most help to stay well by providing them with a range of coordinated support personalised to their individual needs.
A personalised plan is developed with each patient and their carer, to improve their health and wellbeing. This includes medical support to manage their conditions and keep them well, in addition to dedicated support to improve their general wellbeing on a day-to-day basis. Part of this includes improving patient’s confidence and knowledge to recognise and manage symptoms of their conditions and lifestyle factors which could make these worse.
Patients who are eligible for Extensive Care are referred to the service by their GP with patients accessing the team closest to their home. The service operates from four main bases; Moor Park Health and Leisure Centre and South Shore Primary Care Centre in Blackpool; Lytham Primary Care Centre and Wyre Civic Centre.
Like any other referral, when they are assessed as being fit to leave the service, patients are discharged back to the care of their GP – taking with them the knowledge and confidence gained from the extra support they have received from Extensive Care.
Dr Andrew Weatherburn, clinical lead for the Extensive Care service, from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our aim is to support these patients in being able to take back control of their own health and wellbeing. We know that nobody likes to constantly be in and out of hospital or needing help from other services. It isn’t good for patients but it also isn’t good for services, so we were always clear from the start of this journey that one of our fundamental aims would be to reduce the demand on A&E, GPs and others from this group of patients.
“All of the evidence we have to date shows we are indeed doing that. The number of times these patients need to visit A&E, their GP or be admitted to hospital have all fallen. We’ve also seen plenty of exceptional feedback from patients about their experience with us. It’s a huge credit to all of the team for their hard work and dedication over the last two years.”
Dr Tony Naughton, a Thornton GP and clinical chief officer at NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “The pressures the NHS is under are well-known, so making best use of the money, staff and services we have is crucial. Extensive Care is a perfect example of that, a range of professionals working together as one team to reduce the demand on other services and improve patient experiences. The evidence shows what an impact they are having, so it really is a positive all round.”
Such has been the impact of the service; healthcare bosses in other areas of the country have been looking to the Fylde coast for inspiration and guidance. Most recently, colleagues in Tameside and Glossop launched their own local version of Extensive Care after many discussions and visits to better understand the Fylde coast service.
Wendy Swift, chief executive at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have achieved a remarkable amount in these first two years. Setting up a new service is never easy, especially when it’s the first of its kind in the country, but the hard work and commitment of all the Extensive Care team along the way has been unbelievable.
“First and foremost, our aim has always been to make sure that the service provides people with the care they need to stay well for longer. But, in pioneering this new way of working we’ve also been able to share our experience with other areas to benefit even more patients across the country too.”
As one of a select few ‘vanguard’ sites in the country, the Fylde coast received some national funding to help launch the service with the intention of this providing a blueprint for other areas of the country to learn from, adapt and adopt for their own local needs.