Biomedical scientist reflects on the fifty years since she began her career
When biomedical scientist Sue Lucky began work fifty years ago, she could not have predicted how significantly her day-to-day role would change.
From carrying out blood tests using a pipette controlled by mouth and manually counting the cells under a microscope to requiring a 10-minute wait to read sample results that are now generated by an analyser in approximately 40 seconds, her work has been revolutionised by technological advances.
She was just 16 years old in 1966, when she started her career at the former Hackney Hospital. She applied for the role while at secondary school in Leigh-on-Sea, and found out that she had been successful on the last day of term.
Her position as a student laboratory technician would pave the way for her future career, progressing professionally by studying for her Ordinary National Certificate for three years to become a junior laboratory technician. She then spent a further two years studying for a Higher National Certificate to achieve a basic grade role, now equivalent to a Band 5. It was at this point that she began training students and juniors.
She met her husband, Trevor, who was working as a laboratory technician in the Pathology Department at the hospital, and the couple married in 1973. They welcomed their first child, Stuart, in 1975, and daughter Annette in 1980.
She said: “There were more manual processes in the old days, whereas now we use analysers.
“We used pipettes and test tubes and each part of the full blood count was an individual operation.
“We had simple analysers in the late 60s, but come the 70s they had introduced some basic ones which were fairly comprehensive.
“We have really changed our methodology and have new technology, but the interpretation of the results produced by the analyser still requires practice.”
Sue began a new position as a scientific officer at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow in 1988, where she first saw computer systems being used in a laboratory setting. She retired in 2006 and then made the decision to return to the workplace, starting her role at MEHT in 2008.
She explained that while she mostly carries out full blood counts, other areas of her work include clotting tests and the issuing of blood for transfusions. The team circulate between departments weekly and process more than 1,000 samples a day.
She added: “I love it when I’m here. My favourite aspect of the role is that despite all of the pressures with a lot of samples to process, our work benefits the patients because it affects their treatment.
“We are able to confirm that some people are well and don’t need anything done. The downside is that we sometimes find disease.
“We can run a whole batch of blood counts and they are all perfectly normal and then suddenly we run one that is a really abnormal count. However, for the patient, that leads to a diagnosis.
“We are all quite a friendly bunch and it’s a good team.”
Young patient who suffered serious “extremely unusual” injuries has his hand repaired by consultant plastic surgeon Mr Manu Sood and the expert St Andrews Centre team
A young patient who suffered serious, “extremely unusual” injuries, severing two of his fingers and damaging his thumb while scaling a metal fence, has had his hand repaired by consultant plastic surgeon Mr Manu Sood and the expert team at the St Andrew’s Centre.
Tommie Randall, 11, of Poole, Dorset, was with his family at Arena Essex Raceway near Purfleet on Saturday, October 8, when the accident happened.
He was watching his stepdad, Antony Stickley, 28, practicing motor racing at about 2pm when he became interested in the motocross taking place on the other side of a steel fence, which was about 10 feet tall.
He said: “I wanted to go and watch. Normally there’s a hole in the fence, but this time it wasn’t there. I was that desperate to see the motocross that I climbed the fence. I got over, but I slipped as I was coming down the other side. I tried to grab the fence, but there were spikes.”
His mum, Sarah Randall, 34, said: “Tommie didn’t realise that he had lost his fingers, he wasn’t aware of a lot of pain to start with. He called for me but we were on opposite sides of the fence and we had to wait for half an hour for someone who had keys for the gate to come so that I could get to him. When I saw his hand, I said ‘where’s your fingers?’”
He was taken to the medical room on site while his family and bystanders searched for his fingers. His mum found his little finger and a passer-by found his ring finger by the fence. An ambulance was called and Tommie had an agonising wait, losing half a pint of blood, before being brought into hospital.
He then underwent a nine-hour operation to repair the damage to his hand.
Mr Sood explained that he worked closely with a specialist team including expert anaesthetists and nursing staff, to reattach Tommie’s ring and little fingers which were completely amputated, and to repair a severe injury to the muscles, tendons and nerves in his thumb, which was attached by skin alone.
He said: “Tommie’s two fingers were pulled off, which makes it much more difficult than a clean-cut amputation.
“St Andrew’s Centre has one of the largest replantation services in the country. This mechanism of injury is unusual – the severity is unusual and the involvement of three digits is extremely unusual.
“When one replants (reattaches) the fingers, the patient has the full span of the hand and the use of their hand for power grip - the ring and little finger are very important. With this procedure, Tommie will be able to grip.
“As Tommie is young, I expect him to be able to develop reasonably good nerve sensation. He may not have full movement, but I expect him to have a functional hand.”
Mr Sood added that such procedures have less chance of success in adults with other health or lifestyle complications such as diabetics and those who smoke due to the impact on nerve regrowth.
Tommie stayed in hospital for two weeks to recover and undergo physiotherapy before being discharged home ahead of his appointment for a check-up with Mr Sood and further physiotherapy on Thursday, November 3.
Tommie said: “It was tough, but I got through it. I have a little bit of feeling in my fingers now.”
His mum explained that Tommie will have ongoing physiotherapy and possibly more operations to restore function in his hand in the future.
His stepdad said: “It was a massive shock, when Tommie rang he had what I believed was a cut hand.
His mum thanked the team and added: “The staff were really good and made us feel welcome.”
Pathology Team celebrate “huge success” of National Pathology Week programme of events
Members of the Pathology Team are celebrating the “huge success” they enjoyed for their National Pathology Week programme of events.
The team had the opportunity to showcase their work with an interactive display where there were a host of activities to try.
They organised the sessions, held in the main atrium of Broomfield Hospital from November 7-11, to raise awareness of the central role of Pathology in the diagnosis and treatment of disease among colleagues and members of the public.
National Pathology Week, an initiative from the Royal College of Pathologists, provided the team with another chance to demonstrate their day-to-day activities following positive feedback about their Marquee Week exhibition.
They are now calling for those who use the Pathology Department to take part in their staff survey and help to improve the service by sharing their feedback. They will draw two winners from those who have completed the survey, with a first prize of a £40 John Lewis voucher and a second prize of a £20 Marks and Spencer voucher. Please click hereto download the survey, which you should return to email@example.com or by hand to the Blood Sciences reception (D228), marked for the attention of Sarah Haigh by the deadline of Friday, December 9.
Sarah Haigh, Blood Sciences Training Lead, said: “I think that it would be fair to say that the National Pathology Week events were a huge success. Throughout the week the stand was a hive of activity with keen interest shown by both staff and members of the public.
“We were able to use the event as a platform to provide additional training and information for hospital staff on the use of the Sarstedt S-Monovette blood collection system and Nova blood glucose monitors.
“We were also joined on one of the days by the lovely Senior Infection Prevention Nurse, Katheryn Hobbs, with a glow box for hand washing demonstrations. NHS Blood and Transplant, who joined us on the final day of the event, were able to sign up 18 donors on the day. Although this number doesn’t seem huge, when you consider that one donation can help save the lives of seven children or three adults, the team were very pleased.
“As a department we would like to extend a massive ‘thank you’ to all of those involved, we simply couldn’t have done it without all of the support that we had.”
Notley Ward enjoys a nostalgic 1960s party
Staff, patients and their relatives enjoyed a nostalgic 1960s themed party at Notley Ward on Thursday, November 17.
Complete with hit songs from the era, party games, a selection of tasty treats, and even a disco ball, it was the latest in a series of events held at the ward.
While the last focused on dementia care, the next in their programme of events will have a global theme, starting with India. The occasions are held every few months.
Prabha Guske, Senior Sister at Notley Ward, said: “The party was to increase staff morale and for everyone to get together with the patients and their families.
“For the patients we have at the moment, the 1960s party gave them a chance to go back in time a little bit. Everyone really enjoyed it.”
The ward has also organised a Christmas tea party on Thursday, December 22, from 2pm-4pm. All are welcome and there will be music, games, refreshments and more to enjoy.
MEHT staff show off their singing talents with Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet
Members of staff here at MEHT showed off their singing talents by recording a song with Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet in aid of Children in Need.
Jo Braine, health records clerk, is just one of several vocalists from across the Trust who joined the seasoned singer for a rendition of Through the Barricades.
They are part of the award-winning Funky Voices Choir, an umbrella group which has numerous individual groups across the Essex and Suffolk area.
The FVC records a song each year for the Children In Need appeal. Musical director Sandra Colston met Tony Hadley while the group were performing at the Brentwood Festival and he kindly agreed to not only allow permission for the song to be used, but also to personally feature on the track.
Joanne said: “We had a fantastic day recording not just the single but our latest album.
“Tony Hadley was extremely lovely and has still got that big powerful voice, as you can see from the video and recording.
“It would be great if loads of staff could download the track, which reached number 23 in the charts on Children in Need day, and raise as much money for Children in Need as possible.”
You can support the group by downloading the song from iTunes at https://itun.es/gb/QYDjgb?i=1176886938 and watch the video at https://youtu.be/0-9xhZtoJe0. To find out more about the FVC, please go to http://www.funkyvoices.co.uk/
Staff reflect on “happy memories” of their time with a much-loved nurse on her retirement
Staff reflected on the “happy memories” of their time spent with a much-loved nurse as they marked her retirement with a party.
Margaret Medici, who began her career with the Trust in 1988, was presented with a certificate and pen by Chief Executive Clare Panniker on Tuesday, November 15.
Margaret’s colleagues, both past and present, surprised her with a celebration to recognise her outstanding contribution to Broomfield Hospital.
After training as a nurse and midwife at Bradford Royal Infirmary in West Yorkshire, she moved to St Thomas’ Hospital in London and worked there for three years as a staff nurse. She joined the Trust as a staff nurse before progressing to junior and senior sister roles, predominantly in surgical ward B8 and medical ward B3.
She joined the Clinical Site Team as a Clinical Site Manager in 2010,where she has worked for six years with a fantastic team she now refers to as very dear friends. She will return to the team on a part-time basis in January.
She said: “During my years on B3 as a ward sister, the team of nurses I worked with were excellent, we all worked together as a team, inspiring each other to provide excellence to our patients and taking care of each other - my extended family.
“Having all the team come back to see me at my retirement party and to see how they have all progressed was a highlight. It was good for me to see that I had made an impact.
“In my retirement I will now be enjoying time with my family. We have got a big holiday to New York in December – it will be the first time in 30-something years that I will have Christmas and New Year off.”
Margaret lives in Chelmer Village, Chelmsford, is married to John and they have two children – Michael and Nicola. She is known as ‘Mamma Medici’ to her friends and colleagues thanks to her kind and supportive nature.
Justine Wren, Medical Matron, who was mentored by Margaret and worked as her junior sister for 10 years, said: “Margaret has nurtured many nurses across the Trust over her last 28 years at MEHT, and indeed many Band 6s and 7s and CNSs have worked with her.
“Whether they were her substantive staff or indeed students rotating though the old B3, B8, B11, ESS or surgical wards there are numerous staff that can recount their tales and reflect on happy times.
“She was firm but fair, good fun and anyone who recalls being part of her team has very happy memories. Even recently when she has worked in the Clinical Site Team she has proved herself to be quite a character!
“Margaret will be missed by many but we look forward to seeing her return to the Clinical Site Team in the New Year. May we wish her all the best in her retirement- she deserves it!”
Family donates more than £1500 to the Children’s Epilepsy Service at Broomfield Hospital in gratitude for helping them through what they describe as the worst time of their lives
A family has donated more than £1,500 to the Children’s Epilepsy Service at Broomfield Hospital in gratitude for helping them through an experience which they described as the worst time of their lives.
Tara Strydom, 33, is mum to three-year-old Luke, who was diagnosed with the neurological condition two years ago.
The service has supported her and her husband, Tinus, 32, by providing advice about how best to manage Luke’s epilepsy.
Tara held a charity dinner in Burnham-on-Crouch in July, in an effort to raise funds for the service and awareness that not all seizures involve shaking. Luke’s seizures are characterised by becoming unresponsive, at times despite his mum administering emergency medication. This has resulted in numerous hospital visits, on one occasion requiring emergency admission to Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Tara said: “Seeing Luke in ICU was the worst time of our lives.
“When we were put in touch with the Children’s Epilepsy Service at Broomfield Hospital, we were relieved that we had people on our side.
“We met clinical nurse specialist Donna Shepherd and she had us trained in everything that we needed before we went home.
“That’s why I felt it was important to give something back.”
In total, Tara donated £1,430 from the charity dinnerand The Blackwater Country Show added £500 to the appeal.
The first project that the team plan to use the money for is to buy preparation boxes for children who are due to have an EEG. It will include information, photos and toys so that children can explore what the procedure is like.
Nicky Jessup, health play specialist, said: “The toys model real medical equipment, such as electrodes, so that children can practice and play.
“The box will include photos of what the room and the staff look like so that they are prepared and hopefully less anxious.”
Donna Shepherd, clinical nurse specialist for the Children’s Epilepsy Service, added: “If mums and dads are not anxious too it is going to help the child – it is a stepping stone on the journey.
“We are a new service and it’s really exciting to be at the forefront of that and we hope that we offer a friendly, approachable service for our patients.”
Company makes £15,000 donation to the Neonatal Unit for new incubator
A Braintree company has made a generous donation of £15,000 to buy an incubator for the Neonatal Unit at Broomfield Hospital.
Tamdown Group Ltd, which offers infrastructure, groundwork and reinforced concrete frame services, raised the sum through its inaugural fundraising event in July.
Held at the Fennes in Braintree, the occasion featured dinner and dancing with entertainment including an auction, raffle and bucking bronco.
In total, they raised £80,000 for four local charities which were nominated by their staff members. The Neonatal Unit was suggested by Trudie Mann, whose son Jason was born at 32 weeks and stayed in the unit for seven weeks.
The Tamdown Foundation, the company’s charity arm, has been in place for eight years.
Jess Robinson, PA to the Managing Director and Tamdown Foundation Committee Member, said: “We wanted to do something to say ‘thank you’. The fundraiser was fun, relaxed and hugely successful. It was all about the charities and raising as much money as possible.
“It’s great to be able to make this donation. It’s very emotional, especially as lots of women in the office are pregnant or have just had babies. It is one of those services that you hope never to need, but are so grateful for if you do. Our staff members directly use the service so it is nice to be able to give something back.”
Toni Laing, Matron, said:“We are extremely proud of the care we deliver to babies admitted to the Neonatal Unit. This donation will allow us to continue to develop our service in caring for newborn infants born either prematurely or at term, requiring intensive care.
“We are truly humbled to be considered as a recipient for these funds in light of a nomination by staff members of Tamdown who have experienced our services. I cannot thank the Tamdown organisation enough for their generosity and amazing donation to the Neonatal Unit.”
HIV Clinic to support World Aids Day with awareness event
The HIV Clinic team at Broomfield Hospital is to raise awareness about the disease on site and in the community.
The team will have a stand in the main atrium in the morning of World Aids Day (December 1), before moving on to Sainsbury’s in Springfield for the afternoon, where they will speak to visitors about HIV.
They will have three boards displaying facts and figures about the disease and will be selling red ribbons, a symbol in support of the cause. In addition, there will be a quiz for people to join in with which will feature questions about HIV.
Harriet Green, administrator for the HIV Clinic, said: “The purpose of the event is to reduce the stigma of HIV, raise awareness, rethink outdated stereotypes and challenge myths.
“At Sainsbury’s we hope to reach a wider audience and range of people to speak to about HIV.”
Broomfield Atrium - 9am-12.30pm
Sainsbury’s store, White Hart Lane, Springfield, Chelmsford – 1pm-5pm
Consultant upper GI surgeon gives account of his work with the Out to Africa project
I visited The University Teaching Hospital of Lusaka, Zambia, for the second time as part of the charity ‘Out to Africa’ in March 2016.
As many of you already know, Out to Africa was started by Tom Browne, Consultant Vascular Surgeon. The programme has already established links with anaesthetics and physiotherapy departments.
Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The capital city is Lusaka, in the south-central part of Zambia. The population is concentrated mainly around Lusaka and the Copperbelt Province to the northwest, the core economic hubs of the country.
Many wonder and question if laparoscopic surgery is really necessary in Zambia, while people die of poor sanitation, lack of clean drinking water, malnutrition and infectious diseases. Laparoscopy is perceived to be something expensive and it is seen that Zambia needs improvements in basic health provision, not laparoscopy. While working in rural Zambia (Africa in general) is seen as heroic in the west, laparoscopy is seen as a luxury and unnecessary for this part of the world.
Zambia has a relatively stable political establishment and is a progressive country. For example, its per capita GDP is more than that of countries such as India. While rural Zambia is poor and lacks even the basic health needs, Lusaka the capital is the metaphorical heart of the country and is one of the fastest growing cities in southern Africa. University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka (UTH) is the largest hospital in the country and an apex medical institution. It attracts the great and good of the country in the field of the medicine. Zambia’s brightest medical students graduate from here and very motivated and able doctors work at the UTH.
There is a huge shortage of blood products for transfusion (due to a combination of shortage of donors and a high incidence of HIV). Transfusion rate for elective open surgery are high. For example about 70– 80 per cent of patients having open cholecystectomy receive blood transfusion.
Furthermore, the wealthy fly to South Africa to have elective laparoscopic surgery, while the poor have open surgeries in Zambia. This has significant economic implications. Not only does the money leave the country, but the poor who are dependent on their labour to earn daily bread end up staying in the hospital for longer after elective open surgery.
Therefore, I do not see any reason that an apex medical centre in the capital city of a progressive sub-Saharan African country shouldn’t develop laparoscopic surgery and lead the way. My remit in the Out to Africa programme was to demonstrate and impress upon the young minds about the benefits of laparoscopic surgery. Gemma Conn, one of our colorectal surgeons joined us. Tom is an altruistic visionary and his passion for this project is impressive to say the least. Gemma had spent six months in rural Zambia before she was appointed as a consultant and feels a connection to the country. She was excited to join us on this project for the first time.
My visit to UTH last year was very interesting as well as a learning experience for me. Having noted a number of issues, mainly in the lack of some basic laparoscopic equipment, I made contact with Medtronic (then Covidien) representatives in the preceding six months. Medtronic kindly supported the project and provided laparoscopic equipment for the workshop.
The workshop consisted of a combination of lectures and dry lab sessions in the morning followed by live operating in the afternoon. While live operating provided the confidence that cholecystectomy and hernia repair can be performed safely and effectively through a laparoscopic approach, lectures and dry lab provided an opportunity for all of the delegates to develop laparoscopic skills. All of the delegates were assessed using a modified version of LapPass on the last day.
Delegates consisted of postgraduate surgical trainees and one consultant gynaecologist. A couple of the delegates were sceptical about laparoscopy, the rest were keen, inquisitive and enthusiastic. During the course of the workshop, it was satisfying and encouraging seeing even the sceptical ones changing their minds and truly believing that laparoscopic surgery is an effective approach. I was particularly impressed with the significant improvement of their laparoscopic skills within a few days.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I modified ‘LapPass’ (an assessment tool designed by the current president of Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons of Great Britain & Ireland) to assess the delegates’ laparoscopic skills. All of the delegates improved their laparoscopic skills within a short time and had no problems at all passing the modified LapPass.
While the workshop generated a huge amount of confidence and interest in laparoscopic surgery, the main stumbling block is to keep the enthusiasm going after leaving UTH. This is a difficult task and various factors such as political will, reluctance to invest in laparoscopic equipment and misconceptions of senior surgeons about laparoscopic surgery play a role.
To continue the enthusiasm of the young surgical trainees, Tom Browne had discussions with our Trust and arranged to appoint Zambian postgraduate surgical trainees to Broomfield Hospital for a fixed term. These jobs were advertised, applicants shortlisted and interviewed. It was a great experience to interview these bright minds that almost certainly would be the future of surgery in Zambia.
Spending a period of time in a UK hospital, which is a centre for laparoscopic colorectal and oesophago-gastric cancer surgery will give them an excellent opportunity to see the full benefits of laparoscopic surgery. This will hopefully leave lasting impressions on these nascent minds, which will then enable these young surgeons to take the knowledge and skills back to UTH and to be the driving forces behind the development of laparoscopic surgery in Zambia.
Whilst the project is challenging and frustrating at times, I found the whole experience exciting, stimulating, extremely satisfying and very rewarding. I am thankful to Tom Browne for inviting me to be part of this noble project.
Mr N Venkatesh Jayanthi Consultant Upper GI Surgeon
The Sustainability Teamat Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust reflects on a year of plaudits and looks ahead to its forthcoming projects
The Sustainability Team is celebrating achieving a raft of accolades in recognition of its work to engage with the local community in Essex.
The team’s accomplishments over the last 12 months include winning an NHS Sustainability Award and also a HefmA award for the Natural Health Service Project. This project focusses on improving the health of the community through providing physical activities and educational garden volunteer opportunities at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford and St. Peter’s Hospital in Maldon.
The Natural Health Service Project forms part of the wider implementation of the Trust’s Sustainable Development Management Plan (SDMP), published in 2014, when the Trust Board agreed and adopted a strategy to maintain momentum towards becoming a more sustainable and responsible healthcare organisation.
Furthermore, as a result of this work, the Trust has also been shortlisted for the prestigious Health Service Journal Awards 2016, which aims to recognise and showcase the finest achievements in the NHS. Winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held at the InterContinental London hotel at the O2 this month.
Last year, the team worked closely with 14 local volunteer groups and organisations - with more than 200 volunteers - to care for our woodlands and grounds and gardens, including the community vegetable garden and fruit tree orchard. We also opened the new dementia-friendly Forget-Me-Not Garden for Braxted Ward and the innovative Wellbeing Terrace, which offers staff and visitors a space to relax in peaceful surroundings or play games such as swingball and table tennis.
Other community events included formal walks through our estate hosted by the volunteering group ‘The Heart & Sole’ walking group; an educational play session with children and parents of Seymour House Nursery to launch a sponsored planter on the terrace; a volunteer day with over 60 ‘Tesco in the Community’ volunteers and also ‘Twilight Bat Walks’ in conjunction with the Bat Conservation Trust to raise awareness of the three bat species roosting on the campus.
The team has also worked with Grow Wild UK, the national outreach initiative of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which granted the Trust £4,000 to develop a wildflower meadow. The formal meadow, which was created and nurtured over the summer by the City of Chelmsford Mencap group, is in the shape of the caring hearts of the Trust’s Nurture Campaign to celebrate the work of carers and volunteers in the community. Students from Chelmer Valley High School joined in with the project - they researched British native wildflowers and created accompanying artwork. A few exceptional pieces were chosen to be incorporated into a permanent display board at the meadow.
Carin Charlton, Director of Strategy and Corporate Services, said: “The Natural Health Service Project has wide reaching benefits for our patients, visitors and staff.
“We are proud of the way in which we have managed to not only improve the hospital’s woodlands, grounds and gardens but also improve the lives of many local people through volunteering and educational programmes.”
Forthcoming projects include the redevelopment of the sunken garden at Broomfield Court Gardens to become a tranquil and sequestered space for all – ideally situated for patients of The Helen Rollason Centre - whilst maintaining the historic links with the house.
Funding for this project has been secured from the Tesco Bags for Help initiative which is raised from the 5p carrier bag levy. Customers from local Tesco stores have been asked to vote for one of three projects, including the Broomfield Hospital Sunken Garden and the project with the highest number of votes across our region will receive
£12,000, the second placed project £10,000 and the third placed project £8,000.
In addition, the team will be undertaking work on the second dementia-friendly garden, at Baddow Ward, ahead of its opening scheduled for next year.
They are also planning the launch of The Broomfield Hospital Garden Volunteer Club in April 2017.
All of the volunteer activities, garden and woodland maintenance and garden development projects of the Natural Health Project are supported through a combination of grant funding, corporate sponsorship and charitable donations – from organisations and also individuals who wish to donate.
If you are interested in joining as a garden volunteer or would like to find out more about this project or the Sustainability Team’s work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Charity launches Christmas jumper competition
We are pleased to announce that we are running a festive competition to raise money for Our Charity and encourage Christmas cheer this year.
We are asking all textiles enthusiasts to join in with our Christmas jumper competition. You can make a jumper or sew a pattern onto a jumper you have purchased – the only rule is that your creation must be festive themed.
The competition is open to both our staff and the wider community – please send a photo of you with your Christmas jumper to email@example.com or bring a copy to the Charities Office, Broomfield Court, with your contact details by Monday, December 19. We ask that entrants make a 50p donation to Our Charity, either by messaging MEHT01 and the amount to 70070 or bringing it to Our Charity office. The winner will receive a £25 Marks and Spencer voucher.
Meet the newest Action for Family Carers representative at Broomfield Hospital
Nicola Williams, carers’ hospital liaison worker, would like to make contact with more carers across the hospital, including young people and those visiting our outpatient clinics.
She commenced the post in May, after Veronica Sadowsky was promoted to health liaison coordinator.Her last role was at The Alzheimer’s Society, where she spent six years as a dementia support worker.
She said: “My dad was diagnosed with dementia 12 years ago. My brother and I took the role of his carer and it quickly got to crisis point. He was getting more and more withdrawn and I spent two weeks on the telephone trying to find him some help.
“When I got in touch with The Alzheimer’s Society, they understood. We were invited to Christmas lunch and a party in the evening. That was when I realised how important it was for people to talk to somebody with the same problem.
“When I became an employee of the society, I worked with carers and the cared for. I saw how carers take all the burden, to the detriment of their own health and wellbeing.”
She explained that in her position at MEHT, she has worked with families affected by a wide range of illnesses, helping approximately 30-40 carers a month. She supports carers from the age of eight upwards, assisting them with the entire hospital process such as making sure that they are receiving the benefits they are entitled to, referring them to appropriate voluntary organisations, attending meetings with them and supporting them with the discharge procedure. Once they leave the hospital system, she refers them to the Action for Family Carers Community Team for further guidance.
“I absolutely love being here – it’s the atmosphere and getting involved in complex cases.
“We are someone that carers can lean on when they are at their wit’s end,” she said.
INFORMATION: Nicola is available from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, and is based with the Safeguarding and Dementia Team. You can contact her on 01621 851640 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Action for Family Carers, call 01621 851640, email email@example.com or visit www.affc.org.uk. You can also call 0300 770 80 90 for assistance or visit www.carersinessex.org.uk for more information.
Frailty Assessment Unit team reflect on their first “encouraging” month
Did you know that 10 days in a hospital bed leads to the equivalent of 10 years’ ageing in the muscles of an older person?
The importance for older people to spend only as much time in an acute hospital environment as is absolutely necessary is a message that the Frailty Assessment Unit team is keen to share.
The initiative, which launched in September, encompasses improving patient pathways for frail older people who are admitted to Broomfield Hospital in an emergency setting. The team consists of dedicated geriatricians, nurses, therapists, social workers and community providers working together to minimise the amount of time patients spend in the acute hospital while ensuring that they are appropriately managed and supported in the community.
The team responds to each patient’s differing needs using a coordinated, multisystem approach. In the first month, the Frailty Assessment Unit teamhas assessed 140 patients. The average length of stay for these patients is four days, with 70 per cent returning to their usual place of residence and 12 per cent moving to a community hospital for ongoing rehabilitation. A hospital admission has been avoided entirely in 12 per cent of cases.
Suitability for admission to the Frailty Assessment Unit is based on the following criteria:
The patient is aged over 75 and has been admitted as an emergency to Broomfield Hospital with:
- A frailty syndrome, such as falls, new incontinence, confusion/dementia, reduced mobility, polypharmacy, or Parkinson’s disease
- Is not critically ill
- An expected length of stay of 48 hours or less
- Or from a care home
An 82-year-old man who is living with dementia was admitted to A&E having been found lost in the street at night. He lives with his wife who cares for him and even prior to this event was struggling to cope. He was able to return home without a hospital admission following multidisciplinary team assessment.
- Medical: He was found to be in urinary retention and a catheter was inserted to relieve this. This was thought to be the cause of the sudden change in cognition.
- Nursing: His wife was taught how to manage the catheter at home.
- Community: It was arranged for a district nurse to visit the next day to support with catheter care.
- Therapy: His mobility and transfers were assessed to be at a safe level for discharge.
- Social services: They visited the patient and his wife in A&E and arranged for him to be assessed in his own home the following day.
- Older people comprise 23 per cent of A&E attendances and 46 per cent of hospital admissions.
- Older people admitted to hospital stay longer and have higher complication rates.
- 80 per cent of emergency admissions who stay for longer than two weeks are older people.
- 10 days in a hospital bed leads to the equivalent of 10 years ageing in the muscles of an older person.
Dr Katie Ewins, consultant physician and geriatrician, said: “Hospital is a dangerous place for a frail elder person. The first month has been encouraging and through collaborative working the team has achieved an increase in the number of frail elderly patients supported in their own homes.
“We feel confident that this will continue as the unit develops, bringing benefits to both individual patients and to the Trust in the challenging winter months ahead.”