Getting Ready for Winter

The Health and Social Care Partnership is required to develop plans to ensure they can respond to the additional demands and pressures placed on Health and Social Care services over the winter period.

This year the Winter Plan has been developed involving people from hospital services, primary care, SAS, social work and community services to ensure that they can collectively respond to the disruptions they often face during the winter.

During Winter, they see increased demand on GPs and other primary care services, increased activity in Emergency Care Centres and a rise in emergency admissions. They also traditionally experience challenges in meeting the demand for care at home and care home provision over this period with higher levels of delayed discharges.

All of these additional demands on services have to be met at the same time as them continuing to deliver routine services.

Julie White, Chief Operating Officer for NHS Dumfries and Galloway and Chief Officer of the Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Last year we faced one of our most challenging winters on record following the successful move to our new District General Hospital in December 2017.

“We aim to build on the lessons learned from last winter and we have a comprehensive plan in place to respond to what will inevitably be a demanding time for our Health and Social Care Services.

“Some of the key priorities within this years plan include our move towards 7 day working across the Partnership and the provision of a multi-disciplinary weekend discharge team along with a renewed focus to support early in the day discharges. For the first time, we are introducing a Discharge Lounge in the New Hospital to facilitate earlier discharges from our downstream wards.

“We have also funded the opening of a “Surge” ward in DGRI to help deal with increases in admissions.

“Within the community setting, we have funded a region wide Integrated Respiratory Team consisting of physiotherapists, nurses and health care support workers to support people with respiratory conditions at home, prevent avoidable admissions to hospital and facilitate timely discharge.

“A new Rapid Response team has been established as part of the Nithsdale in Partnership initiative. This multi- disciplinary team works with GPs in DG1 and DG2 areas to prevent avoidable attendances and admissions to hospital and to support people to remain in their own homes.

“The region wide STARS team (Short Term Assessment and Reablement Service) will continue to provide a reablement service across Dumfries and Galloway to prevent admissions and support timely discharge from hospital.

“In addition, this year we have provided additional funding to the Care and Support Service which provides care at home services for older people in our communities.

“We have learned a lot from last winter following the migration to the new hospital, the severe adverse weather conditions and the influenza outbreak. One of the key lessons from last year is the need for us to be more proactive in our use of social media to give staff, patients and the public key messages over the winter period.

“We have increased our Facebook followers to over 9000 people. We will continue to run our local Meet ED campaign to inform people of appropriate use of the emergency departments and we will adopt the National “Knowing Who To Turn To Campaign” to signpost people to the most appropriate source of support.

“The ongoing provision of safe, quality services over the Winter period is only possible thanks to the hard work of all of our fantastic clinical, support services and non-clinical health and social care teams along with our Partners in the Third and Independent Sector who continue to deliver above and beyond to ensure our patients and service users receive high quality, safe and effective care.

“I recognise that recruitment remains a challenge in many areas and staff teams are working hard to deal with this. We will continue with our best endeavours to recruit to vacant posts wherever possible.

“This year, in recognition of the challenges faced by our staff, we are introducing a “Working Well” programme of events to promote positive physical and mental health and wellbeing for staff. Look out for events over the coming weeks.

“I am confident that during what will inevitably be a busy and challenging winter our teams will pull together to ensure we continue to do our best to provide the highest possible standards of care to the people we serve.

“Wishing you all a fantastic festive period.”