28 / 01 / 2016
Anyone recovering from a physical health problem can enter a state of delirium, but is a particular risk for older people. Infection, injury or medication can all lead to this state of temporary confusion, which often lasts after the person would otherwise be fit to return home. That means a longer stay on an acute hospital ward: often far from the most comfortable place for an older person who is experiencing an upsetting level of confusion, and financially costly for the NHS.
At Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, the older people’s mental health team have therefore developed a new way of caring for such patients. Anyone over the age of 65 who is experiencing delirium can be referred to Saffron Ward, a purpose-built environment for those who are confused or distressed which is based at a local community hospital. Patients have meals in communal areas, where eating and drinking can be monitored and encouraged, and they are able to freely move around the ward rather than remaining or a bed or chair as they may have to if on a general ward.
The Saffron team includes a GP, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers, and all have particular experience in mental health. Together they care for patients who no longer need intensive support for their physical health, but who do have acute mental healthcare needs as a result of delirium.
The ward not only allows patients to recover in the best possible setting. It also leads to financial savings for the local healthcare system – it costs approximately £1,000 a week less to care for a patient on Saffron Ward than in an acute hospital bed. In the first year of its existence alone, benefits exceeded running costs by £553,000.
For more information:
Sarah Whittle, Communications Officer, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust