Elder Care Forum Hears From Expert In Telehealth

Park House

Islands’ residents have been hearing about how care for the elderly is evolving in Scilly.

Around 20 people attended the Elder Care Forum held at Park House yesterday.

And they learned how innovative technology is helping keep a track on people’s health and how Park House is changing to be more welcoming for patients with dementia.

Tracy Hitchens from Peninsula Community Health’s Telemedicine Team said technology designed to monitor patient’s vital signs on a daily basis had reduced death rates by a massive 45%.

She said the technology could become vital in the future when the rate of elderly patients is increasing and where people will be expected to monitor their own health.

The simple electronic units, which plug into a phone line, can be used to test a variety of indicators including blood pressure, weight and pulse rate.

Tracy said a trial run of the technology, which has been used in patients with heart failure, bronchitis and diabetes, had been so successful that Cornwall had decided to adopt the technology before the end of the test run.

Six patients in Scilly are already benefitting from the system, which sends data on a daily basis to a centre in Bodmin, where it can then be analysed by community nurses either on the islands or in Cornwall.

Any changes in patients’ vital signs results in a doctor calling to make further enquiries.

PCH eventually aim to enrol 1,700 in the system and say there is more spare capacity in Scilly. They also hope to expand the care to patients with recurrent urinary tract infections, high blood pressure and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Elsewhere in the session, Adult Social Care Manager, Jonny Roberts, described how he’d been inspired by a visit to Coombe House residential home in Liskeard which has an innovative approach to Dementia Care. The home is run by the charity Dementia Care Matters, and believes that the patient’s emotional needs should come first.

Staff are encouraged to ditch the ‘them and us’ approach by not wearing uniforms, eating meals with the residents, not having separate staff toilets and making the home as ‘homely’ as possible.

Jonny said David Sheard from the charity had spent a day in Park House observing their staff. David told them the general standard of care was high but the home had, “a 1970’s local authority feel.”

Jonny said they took on board the recommendations and have made the home more comfortable, with new carpets and soft furnishings, soft lighting and lamps to replace harsh fluorescent tubes. Staff also spend more time interacting with the residents on a regular basis through the day.

They’re recording residents’ major life events in ‘life books’, which stimulate their memories as they start to deteriorate.

Aisling Hick from the Council said the Elder Care Forum is a great opportunity to touch base with the islands’ older population and get feedback from them.

She said the Council is currently looking at the options for extra care housing on the islands, particularly the re-use of the former school site at Carn Thomas.

Aisling said this could include a mixture of sheltered accommodation and open market property on that site, which is the most commercially viable option. And she said Park House could in future be reconfigured to provide a number of en-suite, 24-hour care units with a social centre on the ground floor.

She’ll be reporting back to the Council in the autumn about the possible ways forward.