North-East care home at centre of healthcare initiative

Posted on December 9th, by geoff in Caring Times head, CT Extra. No Comments

Caring Times, December 2013

Ventress Hall care home in Darlington is one of a number of care homes participating in a two-year pilot scheme that could be a UK first, as GPs in the town are to carry out weekly ward-rounds in local care homes.

Care home managers, members of NHS Darlington Clinical Commissioning Group, GPs, district nurses and other social care professionals meet regularly to discuss issues such as safeguarding, end-of life-care and sharing best practice that increases the wellbeing of residents. The group meets at different venues, most recently at Ventress Hall. The meetings are reported to be always very positive and are chaired by a representative from the council. 

Home manager Judy Wray recalls that it was at one of these meetings that Dr Matt Sawyer, a GP from Clifton Court Medical Centre, first put the idea of the weekly rounds to the group.

She said: “Rather than only responding to calls from care homes, GPs will visit on a regular basis to try to stop health problems developing. We hope the scheme will improve the quality of care received by residents and reduce emergency admissions to hospital.

“Ventress Hall is our residents’ home and most of them would prefer to be able to stay here to receive treatment rather than face a stay in hospital. Choice is crucial to maintaining dignity and we hope this new service will increase dignity as well as the wellbeing of our residents.”

Sixteen care homes and six GP practices in and around Darlington are participating in the pilot and Ventress Hall <>  will be working with the Blackett’s medical practice, a few minutes’ walk away from the home in Trinity Road.

Judy said: “We were delighted to be partnered with the surgery. 50 percent of our residents were already registered there and the team is popular with the residents.

“Dr Jenny Steel has begun her regular weekly calls and it is working really well and of course we can still phone the surgery if someone needs to see a GP outside of her visiting time.

“Residents who haven’t been registered with the surgery before are getting to know Dr Steel and we will be inviting her to all our events so she becomes a firm part of the Ventress Hall extended family.”

Councillor Veronica Copeland, Darlington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Housing added: “This is a very welcome working practice that should help prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and ensure patients are better cared for in the community.”


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