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Guardian: "Nurses who do house calls"

March 10, 2004 -- Today the Guardian (U.K.) ran a lengthy, interesting piece by Linda Jackson about a new initiative in Bath under which a "mobile nursing team" may be able to help ailing older persons avoid being forced into nursing homes. The pilot program, which the article says is being seen as a "revolution" in elder care, "brings front-line nursing staff into ordinary residential homes," allowing residents to avoid more costly and less comfortable nursing homes, and potentially reducing the number and duration of hospital stays.

According to the story, the three-year pilot program is part of the government's "invest to save" program, which is aimed at developing pioneering projects to improve services. The Bath program is reportedly the "brain child" of Jane Ashman, strategic director of social and housing services for the local council. Ashman notes that the mobile teams will not only allow patients to remain in familiar surroundings, but deliver care "at the cutting edge" of nursing, which Ashman predicts will attract "better quality nurses." The initial nursing team will care for 15 residents in three residential homes, and will be supported by new "health and social care workers."

Proponents of the program predict considerable cost savings, including reductions in nursing home and hospital stays. One study reportedly showed that 30% of the time patients admitted from "council-run care homes" spent in a local hospital was "due to delays in arranging post-discharge care," which could have been avoided with the mobile nursing team in place. If the program is successful, some predict there will be pressure to change current rules governing nurse staffing in "care homes," which currently require a nurse to be on the premises 24 hours a day.

The article might have sought the views of persons who were not government supporters of the program. For instance, the piece does not appear to reflect any input from nurses or from non-governmental public health experts, who could have offered a valuable perspective on all of the potential ramifications of the program, including benefits to patients from living more independently in familiar surroundings, the significance of the program for the nursing profession, the possibility that relaxed nurse staffing ratios in homes could endanger patients, and any issues related to reliance on the new "health and social care workers."

See the article "Nurses who do house calls" in the March 10, 2004 edition of the Guardian.


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