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Christchurch Quake Speeds Up Home Care Initiative

Christchurch Quake Speeds Up Home Care Initiative

The impact of the Christchurch earthquake in February has seen a home support initiative for elderly hospital patients implemented much sooner than planned.

Canterbury District Health Board (DHB) Service Portfolio Manager Nancy Stewart says the loss of hospital and aged residential care beds meant a new supported discharge service that was already in the pipeline had to get up and running within three weeks.

With Professor Matthew Parsons of Auckland University and Pauline Edmunds of Access Home Healthcare, Ms Stewart is presenting at a conference for home health providers being held in Wellington this week.The New Zealand Home Health Association (NZHHA) represents 48 organisations which provide healthcare, personal care and support for sick, elderly and disabled people living in their own homes. The theme of the conference is Fronting Up.

Ms Stewart says CREST (Community Rehabilitation Enablement Support Teams) was planned –following a similar programme, START, at Waikato Hospital – when the quake struck.

“The impact of the 22 February earthquake meant Christchurch lost over 35 medical beds and 600 residential care beds. With a limit to the number of hospital beds available we had to enhance our home supports, especially for older people discharged from hospital, as quickly as possible. We had to move fast to ensure services in the face of the losses suffered.”

Ms Stewart says the programme was in place by 5 April, just three weeks after Canterbury DHB’s decision to fast-track implementation. “It was a superb team effort.”

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She says the new programme is already proving very successful, with 230 referrals actioned and positive feedback from service users.

“This new service identifies people in hospital who would benefit from an earlier discharge if they got the right support at home. An integrated team of specialists, such as physios and occupational therapists, along with district nurses and other community health care workers, is put in place before the person even leaves hospital.”

Ms Stewart says CREST is a much more integrated response, which involves a thorough assessment of an elderly person’s needs, the provision of the right help and equipment as soon as they get home, and constant review.

“This leaves a person much more confident about being able to look after themselves at home, and to be able to enjoy being back at home.”

NZHHA Chief Executive, Julie Haggie, says conference delegates will consider critical issues for the home health sector. “As a larger proportion of our citizens age, networks and services in the community will need to be strong so we can be supported to live for longer, where we want to live.”


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