Bringing healthcare closer to the people

Dr Alex Gaw
Dr Alex Gaw

Health bosses in the Lancaster area say their key goal is to bring care closer to people’s homes.

At a governing body meeting of the Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on January 21, doctors said the group’s Better Care Together programme was about adopting an “out of hospital model” working with its partners across the region.

Dr Alex Gaw, the clinical chair of the CCG, said the intention wasn’t to shift all care into the community, but to bring care closer to the patient, and integrate the care around them.

“The model we’re trying to achieve is to enable the primary care team to actually mobilise the resources and interact together effectively without having to refer people from one organisation to the next,” he said.

The governing body, who met at the CCG’s offices in Moor Lane, Lancaster, on January 21 heard from Lancashire Care NHS Trust, which provides mental health care across the county.

The trust is closing the Lancaster dementia care unit Altham Meadows in April, and opening a new facility called The Harbour in Blackpool, to serve the whole county.

Dr Gaw said: “We want reassurance that community services will meet the needs of our population.

“That is also one of the key concerns for patients, which can create a lot of anxiety.

“We’re challenged with what to do with some of our patients and we want to be able to look after them properly.”

Emma Foster, network director adult community services at Lancashire Care, said: “The agenda is about living well with dementia.

“Rather than it being an admission to hospital for 24 hour care, if we catch it early enough we can help people and their families, to allow them to stay at home, recognising that people do best in their own environment.”

She said there would be an increase in community services, including an extension to services times - from 8am to 6pm to 8am to 8pm, with a four hour maximum response time.

She added: “There are people in the community who have dementia that are not known to services.

“Fifty per cent of people who live with dementia don’t have a diagnosis.

“We now have some additional resources across Lancashire to close that gap. We’re also reviewing what our community mental health teams do.

“By April we’ll have the full care home liaison team in place. Our aim is to provide care in the community so that specialist patient beds can be reduced.”

The CCG said it would be liaising with the local pensioners group in February, and transport issues for patients and families would be considered as well.