SERVICES: Staff at Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital are working more closely with local care homes to improve communication about patients.

Homes and hospital now exchange information about residents who are admitted to ensure their needs are met. This can include the home informing hospitals about their dietary and general care need, and the hospital is providing better discharge information through a special summary form.

Louise Notley, nurse consultant for older people, says: “It is no longer about ‘them’ and ‘us’ but all of us sharing information and working together to ensure that patients and residents receive a seamless and high quality service. This project is essentially about improving communications between the different parts of the system, breaking down barriers between the different organisations and understanding each other’s pressures.”

Trust staff also speak regularly to care homes when one of their residents is in hospital and give an indication of the likely discharge date. This means homes can make preparations for the patient’s return and delays do not occur because they are not ready to take the patient back. Further steps being taken to improve communications include staff from the homes taking part in team training days at the Trust and shared training.