Hospital plans pioneering bid to improve care of the elderly

Lead nurse for older people Joy Manning with ward matron Rebecca Shaw with patient Denham Batty
Lead nurse for older people Joy Manning with ward matron Rebecca Shaw with patient Denham Batty

Kettering General Hospital is to become a pioneer in a new style of care for the 36,000 elderly patients it treats each year.

The hospital is to adopt a new holistic approach to looking after its older patients as it becomes an Academy of Geratology Excellence.

It means that nurses will get specialist training, wards will be changed to incorporate specialisms, and health care staff will change the way they work to ensure patient care is exemplary.

The hospital is one of the first in the country to change the way it works.

The programme is based on an idea pioneered in America which is called Nurses Improving Care for Health System Elders based at New York University.

It helped medical bosses there to attract the best staff to their hospitals.

Kettering General Hospital’s director of nursing and quality Clare Culpin said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the hospital to explore some new ways of developing excellent care for older people at the hospital.

“On average we see each of our older patients 4.5 times a year – some of them many more times than that.

“This is a great opportunity for us to improve care for these patients by focussing on how we approach their care, working in partnership with them and their family.”

Improvements will include specialist staff wearing a unique uniform attempting to drive improvements to elderly care around the hospital.

Staff will be given training programmes developed with local universities giving them better skills to look after patients with complex conditions.

The hospital is also moving its stroke unit from Naseby wards to a more modern, dedicated space in the Cranford Unit which will also have an accelerated discharge service.

Dementia training will be improved and the unique Schwartz rounds will be introduced which will enable staff to meet regularly to share ideas.

Clare added: “New graduate nurses often don’t want to specialise in caring for older people because they tend to go for more glamorous areas like critical care and A&E. We want to make care of the elderly their first choice.

“We know the scheme in the USA helped attract staff to work there. We hope it will have the same effect here.”

Former BT manager Den Batty, 83, from Kettering has been on the Naseby ward for three weeks and is expecting to be there for another two before he goes home. He said: “My care has been great. I think the changes are going to be good.”

Talking about the new approach, practice improvement lead Kay Atkinson said: “This is about developing a change in culture around the care of older adults.”