The BBC are reporting today on trials that have been put in place across the UK to help improve the relationship between the NHS and Care Homes.
Like many good ideas, the way the NHS and care sectors in the London borough of Sutton are working together more closely is a relatively simple concept.
When a care home resident needs to go into a hospital, a red bag is packed for them. It contains their details, vital information about their health conditions, supplies of medicine, and a change of clothes for when they are ready to be discharged.
"You would not believe how many people face delays simply because clothes can't be found for them," says Mary Hopper, a senior NHS manager in Sutton. "You have staff going to lost property trying to find them something to fit."
The initiative also sees a member of the care home staff visiting the patient in hospital within 48 hours of admission. And this all helps doctors and nurses treat them more effectively.
The result is older people are spending less time in hospital - eight days, which is four fewer than before the scheme was set up. This is good for the individual and good for the health service.
But the red bag scheme is just one of the ways the NHS and care homes are working together.
- GPs have also been employed to carry out regular visits of care homes, with each resident now receiving six-monthly check-ups.
- A pharmacist is on hand to visit homes to carry out medicine reviews.
- And district nurses have been used to train care home staff in dementia, falls and diabetes.
It certainly seems to be working.Since the project started a year ago, there has been a 10% drop in visits to A&E.
Sutton is not the only area where the NHS is forging closer links with care homes. It is one of six "vanguard" areas in England given funding to explore new ways of working.
This has been done in recognition of the fact that the NHS has - in the words of Ms Hopper - turned its back on the care sector.
She says the closure of many long-stay hospitals 20 years ago means the responsibility for caring for sick older people has increasingly fallen on the care sector - with little input from the NHS.
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This Diabetes Week Diabetes UK are calling on people to share straight talking stories, facts and videos to let everyone know the truth about diabetes.
Just about everyone has heard about diabetes, there are currently 3.5 million people diagnosed in the UK and a further 549,000 who have the condition but don't yet know it. Most of us know a friend or family member living with diabetes, yet it’s still hugely misunderstood, and there are so many myths and misconceptions out there that this year, the theme is Setting the record straight.
To find out more and to see how you can get involved please visit www.diabetes.org.uk/Get_involved/Diabetes-Week/
The research, published in The Lancet, looked at 24 patients aged between 18 and 50 from three hospitals in Canada. For 23 patients the treatment greatly reduced the onset of the disease, but in one case a person died. An MS Society spokeswoman said this type of treatment does "offer hope" but also comes with "significant risks".
Around 100,000 people in the UK have MS, which is an incurable neurological disease. The condition causes the immune system to attack the lining of nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Most patients are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s.
One existing treatment is for the immune system to be suppressed with chemotherapy and then stem cells are introduced to the patient's bloodstream - this procedure is known as an autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT).
But in this study, Canadian researchers went further - not just suppressing the immune system, but destroying it altogether. It is then rebuilt with stem cells harvested from the patient's own blood which are at such an early stage, they have not developed the flaws that trigger MS.
The authors said that among the survivors, over a period of up to 13 years, there were no relapses and no new detectable disease activity.
All the patients who took part in the trial had a "poor prognosis" and had previously undergone standard immunosuppressive therapy which had not controlled the MS. One person died as a result of the strong effects of the chemotherapy, the authors said.
Lead author Dr Mark Freedman admitted there were limitations to the study - such as the small sample size - and there was no control group used for comparison with those who were treated. He said: "Larger clinical trials will be important to confirm these results.
"Since this is an aggressive treatment, the potential benefits should be weighed against the risks of serious complications associated with HSCT and this treatment should only be offered in specialist centres experienced both in multiple sclerosis treatment and stem cell therapy, or as part of a clinical trial."
Dr Emma Gray, who is head of clinical trials at the MS Society, said: "This type of stem cell transplantation is a rapidly evolving area of MS research that holds a lot of promise for people with certain types of MS.
"This treatment does offer hope, but it's also an aggressive procedure that comes with substantial risks and requires specialist aftercare. If anyone is considering HSCT we'd recommend they speak to their neurologist."
A recent survey carried out by The Stroke Association has revealed that survivors feel that they are not getting the care and support they need and they want a national plan to drive improvements.
1,800 people responded to the stroke survey earlier this year, of whom over 1,100 were stroke survivors and told the Stroke Association that:
- They feel abandoned when they leave hospital – nearly half of stroke survivors were not contacted when they left hospital – despite guidelines detailing the need for regular follow up.
- The physical impact of stroke is the hardest to deal with - nearly 40% of stroke survivors felt that the hardest aspect of having a stroke was the physical impact, such as muscle weakness or difficulty walking. Out of everyone questioned 27% of stroke survivors rated the therapy they received for physical disabilities as very poor or poor.
- Care gets worse once you leave hospital - most stroke survivors told us their hospital care was good or very good however over 30% told us their care at home was poor or very poor because they are not getting the right support at the right time
The Stroke Association are campaign for better support for stroke survivors and are urging the public to support their campaign by signing an online petition.
Their campaign aims to secure a commitment from the Department of Health and NHS England to develop a new national stroke strategy for England which will address the unacceptable variations in stroke care and treatment, drive new advances in treatment and improve support for people affected by stroke. This is following the ending of the current ten year national strategy which the government does not plan to renew.
For more information and to sign the petition please visit online petition.