Published: 16/05/2018 08:55 - Updated: 15/05/2018 12:10

Care for the elderly makes big advance

Varis CourtAN innovative care model pilot being tested at a local sheltered housing complex is to be extended by eight months.

Five apartments in Varis Court, Leask Road are being leased by the NHS to provide medical and nursing care for the Forres community, as an alternative to community or acute hospital admission.

A team of nurses who work in the apartments can also look after people 24hrs-a-day in their own homes, following the principles behind the Buurtzorg model pioneered in Holland.

Information is being collated on a monthly basis to allow a full evaluation at the end. The project was supposed to run until April.

The Moray Independent Joint Board (MIJB) report states: “The extension will allow for a further exploration of the impact of this initiative on the health and social care system in the Forres area. It will also allow Dundee University to publish their findings in relation to an independent item of research focused on the application of the Buurtzorg principles in relation to the Forres Neighbourhood Care Team and the instrumental learning that this may reveal at both local and national levels.”

A further report will be submitted at the MIJB meeting on November 29 with the outline transformation reshaping care plan for the redesign of health and social care services in Forres.

Key insights highlighted in the report for the pilot so far include: the Forres Neighbourhood Care Team have demonstrated they are a flexible resource able to support patients and deliver care at home and at Varis Court; areas for development include closer integration in relation to other health and social care teams in the area and easier accessing of resources and equipment; there is a gap in provision for the very frail and elderly who are ‘non-ambulant’; the team have ensure that beds at the Augmented Care Units have not become blocked by facilitating returns home, helping reduce blockages in the system; the average cost of a bed is estimated to be comparable with Leanchoil Hospital; there is approximately a £4million future cost for Leanchoil Hospital compared to a nil cost Varis Court.

The interim evaluation notes that, while the report indicates that the development is achieving positive outcomes, there are a number of limitations in terms of the evaluation including limited quantitative and qualitative data used to inform a number of the insights. 

This includes insights from informal carers and other Health and Social Care professionals who have a stake in the project. 

There is also an opportunity to more fully understand the economic impact on the Forres Health and Social Care system over 12 months.

Officers believe this is an area of research that should be undertaken as an independent item of academic research.

Finally, it is considered that the application of the Buurtzorg principles is not only of an interest to the MIJB but will also be of national interest at a time when integration authorities are engaged with redesigning their services.

Varis Court has a total of 39 residents. A Hanover Housing spokeswoman confirmed a film room allows residents to come together to watch movies and a sensory is available to develop the senses through special lighting, music and objects. She added that 19 Hanover staff provide a range of other activities, as do other people who come in from outside.

Stephen McCullough, Care Manager Scotland, said: “We are delighted that Varis Court has proved so popular with the residents of Forres and we have now achieved full occupancy. The local community has been hugely supportive which highlights the warmth with which this service is viewed. “Hanover believes in continuous improvement and we are committed to improving and developing the activities and services provided. We are always open to good ideas for hosting activities in the development.”

One resident, who would prefer to remain nameless, told the Gazette the only regular ongoing organised activity for the residents is knit and natter, around once-a-month.

She said: “However, a lot of the residents are too unwell to leave their flats to join in.

“The staff haven’t got much else organised yet. They were supposed to be employing someone for 20 hours-a-week to do it but that hasn’t happened yet.”

She added: “It’s very comfortable here. We are near all the town centre facilities and the staff are very helpful.

“The residents have a meeting once-a-month chaired by the manager where any issues are taken on board and dealt with. The residents get feedback on any staff changes.”

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