Hip hooray for more home care

THERE is a common saying in East Sussex that nearby Hastings is a drinking town with a fishing problem.

Despite the fact that the town now boasts a higher proportion of young people than anywhere else in the county, it would be fair to say the Eastbourne is a retirement town with a hip problem.

In the latest NHS figures, Eastbourne came top in Sussex for hospital admissions for falls in people aged over 65, registering 1,963 compared to 1,842 in second-placed Wealden. This results in the hospital treating around 350-400 fractured hips a year.

The TADS team started in 2011, with DGH management keen to provide better support for patients getting over hip operations. The goal was to offer more help in the community, allowing patients to go home sooner rather than endure longer stays in hospital.

Its approach is about tying together all aspects of patient care and TADS gets involved almost as soon as a patient arrives at accident and emergency.

Encompassing nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and rehabilitation support workers, the idea is to act as a one-stop shop for anyone nursing a broken hip, or neck of femur as it is know in the trade.

Heading the outfit is Andrew Armitage, an orthopaedic consultant who is proud of what they have achieved already.

“Our approach has had some excellent results,” he explains. “The average number of days spent in hospital for someone under the TADS scheme is 8.6 days. That is coming in, having the operation and being discharged. The national average is 22 days.

“Not everyone is suitable for TADS but it has helped get our overall average down to 16.8 days.

“The upshot is that people are not in hospital longer than they need to be, they get to go home which is good for them and frees up beds and staff for other patients.”

To the outside it may seem like conveyor belt care but Mr Armitage points out that as well as being driven by what the team considers best for the patient’s long-term recovery, the approach has also gone down well with those it is benefiting.

An ongoing survey of people who have gone through TADS shows 97 per cent are happy with their treatment and far from being dumped back at home, the care does not end on discharge.

“Rehab does not stop here,” continued Mr Armitage. “Patients are visited for up to four weeks in the community.

“Nobody is sent home unless they are ready and in most cases people want to be in their own home.

“Our rehab workers give them exercises which they are then supervised doing. It is important to continue that rehab at home.”

Judith Keller was admitted to the DGH on February 14 with a broken hip and discharged just four days later. She gave the team a glowing reference. “When it happened I did not know what to expect and I thought I would be in hospital for some time,” she said.

“In fact, I was horrified when they told me to get out of bed but it was exactly what I needed. If you spend all day in bed you think yourself sick.

“The support I have received at hospital and at home has been brilliant.”

Mr Armitage carries out hundreds of hip operations every year and that number is unlikely to drop significantly in the near future.

However, thanks to TADS, those that do fall don’t have to wait too long before they are back on their feet.