Elderly and vulnerable people being discharged from hospital will no longer have to fend for themselves once they get home.
A new initiative in the Stamford and Bourne areas involving the Evergreen Care Trust charity and the NHS will mean no-one being left on their doorstep to face a cold, empty house and nothing to eat.
Sue Cliffe, the trust’s volunteer co-ordinator said: “We want zero tolerance of unsupported hospital discharges of elderly and vulnerable people.”
The trust has re-launched its Hospital To Home service after the church-led charity was approached by Heather Charles, of the new clinical commissioning group for Peterborough City Hospital.
From this week, two trust volunteers will meet and greet patients in their homes with a bunch of flowers and a welcome home card.
The volunteers will make sure heating is on, the bed is made, fresh food is in the fridge and will do any other household tasks requested of them. They will also step in when a person is unexpectedly hospitalised or sent to respite care, making sure that their home is looked after.
The RSPCA will collect any pets and home them temporarily.
The service will provide the same level of support that a family member or carer would provide.
Mrs Cliffe said they were initially launching a three-month trial to cover the city hospital’s orthopaedic wards and Stamford Hospital’s Van Geest ward.
“We expect between one or two referrals a week to begin with but then hope to roll it out across the hospital’s geriatric and medical wards, meaning perhaps five or six a week,” she said.
She stressed that although most of the clients will be elderly there is no age limit - any vulnerable person who is alone can be helped.
Sue said a Hospital At Home scheme was started by the trust eight years ago and worked quite well until a charge was levied on hospitals for keeping patients after they were fit to go home – the so-called bed blockers.
The system became chaotic, the link with the trust was broken and the service has been dormant for the last three years.
The hospital’s Community Response and Rehabilitation nurses will identify patients needing support on admission and will refer them to the charity.
Their outreach team will liaise with the charity to cover the Bourne area.
A team of 17 volunteers has been assembled but more are needed.
“When the scheme gets going we will need about 25 to 30,” Mrs Cliffe said.
She said she knew of cases in the past when unexpected illness or injury had led to people having to leave home suddenly, without even being able to pack a bag for their hospital stay.
They would return after a period of time to find a cold house, mouldy food and generally unsatisfactory home conditions.
The volunteers, all committed men and women simply wanting to help those in need, will bring patients home from hospital or meet them at home if they have hospital transport.
They will settle them back in with a cup of tea while discussing shopping and what other help they can give.
Penny Cuturi has joined the team as Hospital to Home lead.
The trust is being helped by Stamford XT, a group of former Round Table members and particularly Ian Scott, for financing publicity literature and petty cash for groceries, flowers and the cards made by volunteer Sheridan Howard.
The service will be free to patients, except for any shopping bought.
“We’re very excited about running this and see it as our core mission and we are thrilled to be working in partnership with the hospital and care commissioning team,” Mrs Cliffe said.
Recruitment days for volunteers will be held at Bourne Co-op on May 16 and Morrisons in Stamford on June 5.
For more details see the Evergreen Care Trust website or contact them at the Stamford Hospital site on 01780 482787.
- The Evergreen Care Trust was established in 2005 by a group of volunteers from Stamford churches. It runs services in befriending, mentoring, advocacy, home cleaning and home support and provides community lunches and soup deliveries.
It does not receive any government or lottery funding but relies on donations, fundraising and income from lunches and some of its services.