Community health services: patients asked for views to shape their future
People in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are being asked to share their views on healthcare patients receive at home and in local communities as the local NHS looks to improve community health services.
Community health services cover a wide range of care, from supporting patients to manage long-term conditions like complex diabetes or respiratory conditions to treating those who are seriously ill with complex conditions.
Most community healthcare takes place in people’s homes or other out of hospital healthcare settings like GP practices. This is supported by care in community hospitals, with teams of nurses and therapists co-ordinating care and working with GPs and social care professionals.
Community health services also provide preventative and health improvement services, often working with GP practices, local councils and the community and voluntary sector.
The current arrangements for community health services in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland date back a number of years with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust as the main provider.
The local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which plan and fund local healthcare services, are now considering changing services to help more people be cared for at home and in local communities.
The work builds on plans to transform healthcare set out under Better Care Together, which was formerly known as the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). Feedback from the public, doctors and other healthcare staff showed that the NHS needs to review community services, including the type and number of community beds, to support better, more joined-up care, reduce hospital admissions and help patients live more independently.
A range of services are included as part of the redesign work:
- District nursing services – which provide home-based patients with ongoing nursing care for long-term conditions or end-of-life care, with treatments such as wound care and continence care
- Intensive Community Support (ICS) – a ‘virtual ward’ providing healthcare services in a patient’s own home
- Community hospital beds (including stroke beds)
- Community physiotherapy services (not including MSK physiotherapy)
- Community stroke rehabilitation service
- Primary care co-ordinators – who work in hospitals to support staff to help get patients home as quickly as possible once they are ready to leave hospital
Other community health services, such as speech and language therapy and specialist nursing teams such as heart failure are not included in this phase of work. They may however follow as a second phase of work to ensure a consistent approach to specialist community health services.
Tamsin Hooton, Director lead for Community Services Redesign on behalf of the local CCGs said: “We face a number of challenges on the horizon: a growing elderly population, many with multiple long-term conditions, and rising costs of delivering services.
“Demand is increasing at a faster rate than available resources and we need to think differently about how we deliver care that meets people’s needs now and in the future.
“Patients have told us they want to stay at home wherever they can, and clinical evidence tells us that people recover much better and faster at home. In order for us to deliver this kind of care, and to support the work already underway to deliver more home based and integrated community care, our existing services need to change and that’s why we are looking at opportunities to redesign them.
“We are doing this by listening to the views and experiences of local patients, clinicians and health and social care staff and looking at examples of how this kind of care is delivered well elsewhere in the country.
“In recent months we’ve been conducting a number of workshops and are now undertaking interviews and focus groups. People also have the opportunity to share their views through a survey. This initial phase of engagement is crucial to ensure our plans fully reflect local views so we encourage people to get involved.”
The NHS hopes the work will help develop an understanding of how community hospitals should be used in the future. Detailed consideration of this aspect of community services including the number and location of hospital beds will follow the initial redesign work. This will include further public involvement and consultation if significant changes are proposed.
Patients who are receiving community based healthcare and/or their family carers are encouraged to share views by completing an online survey at: surveymonkey.com/r/BCTCSR18. Alternatively paper copies and information in other formats are available on request by contacting the Communications and Engagement Team at East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling on 0116 295 3405.
The closing date for the survey is Sunday 21 October 2018.
The findings will be used to shape initial proposals for change, which are anticipated later this year. Further public involvement will follow with full public consultation if the proposed changes are significant.