STRUCTURE: A community ward is being run inside Maidstone Hospital to help older people recover faster, as part of an initiative involving Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust.

Kent Community Health NHS Trust, working with NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group, Kent County Council and the acute trust, has opened a 22-bed ward to help rehabilitate patients with complex needs more quickly.

The pilot project was launched in December to increase the amount of care available in the community. It is being funded by NHS West Kent CCG.

The ward mainly helps older patients who have been treated on an acute ward after fractures, chest infections, urinary tract infections and other serious illnesses.

So far, the pilot project has helped patients to return home after two weeks and freed up acute beds, according to the trusts involved. 

Community matron Maggie Powell, who is jointly heading up the team, said: “We’ve run this pilot at the busiest time of the year and at the moment, the average length of stay for a patient is 14 days.

“We will keep evaluating the results until the end of the pilot but so far, it’s really proven its worth.”

Ward staff include a senior community nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, plus a ward manager, nurses and healthcare assistants from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust. Case managers from Kent County Council’s Social Services also form part of the team.

Colette Donnelly, associate director of operations for emergency services at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, said: “This collaborative approach to managing people’s health needs is a really positive move for patients.”