AS OXFORD’S hospitals brace for increasing pressure on limited resources this winter a new scheme to reduce bed blocking has been launched to get people home safely faster.

The Home Assessment Reablement Team (HART) at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are working on a therapy-led ‘discharge to assess’ initiative which is aimed at people who do not need to stay in hospital, but who need extra short-term support so they can go home.

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It helps identify these patients earlier, meaning they spend less time in hospital and are then assessed in their home to help plan for both their short and longer-term needs.

One patient who has already benefited from the service is Ronald Sonneborn who lives in Headington.

The 82-year-old was admitted to the John Radcliffe earlier this year after he had a fall and fractured his right shoulder.

He was treated at home by the team as part of the ‘discharge to assess’ initiative, including help with washing, dressing, and providing therapeutic support with equipment and exercises to support his recovery.

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Over time, his confidence improved and he now takes 20 minute walks every day, and is managing his own care and ongoing physiotherapy.

He said: “After I had my fall, my confidence took quite a knock. You don’t realise just how much you use something like your shoulder until it’s injured.

“While it’s hard being injured, being discharged more quickly and receiving treatment at home made things so much easier for me."

Mr Sonneborn added: "The team helped me feel secure, and were very professional and caring and are just lovely human beings. The whole initiative is really brilliant."

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“I’m still on the mend, but I’m very grateful to the team for their help in getting me started and making me feel more comfortable at home.”

Sam Foster, Chief Nursing Officer at the trust, said: “This initiative is a really wonderful development for HART. The work they do is so valuable for our patients, and by changing the location that we make decisions about on-going care needs to a person’s own home rather than in a hospital ward, we can make sure more people are confident and happy in their homes following discharge from hospital.

“Once hospital care is complete, many people want to be back home as soon as possible, which is completely understandable. Being in hospital for longer than needed often leads to a deterioration in people’s general condition, and can even increase their long-term care needs.

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“By helping people regain their independence and continuing our ‘home first’ approach, the team can continue to deliver safe, effective care and support in the most appropriate and often happiest setting for our patients.”

Following a trial at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury earlier this year, the initiative is now underway at the John Radcliffe Hospital for patients living in the centre of the city, and will be rolled out across Oxfordshire by the end of this year.

To date, HART staff have supported 348 patients.