The importance of Allied Health Professionals in Sutton Homes of Care vanguard

Sutton Homes of Care (@SuttonHoC) vanguard is one of six enhanced health in care homes vanguards working to improve the lives of residents living in care homes. Allied Health Professionals play a vital role in the success of Sutton’s vanguard and many of them attended the recent Allied Health Professionals Annual Conference in London to speak about their important role. In this blog Viccie Nelson, Programme Director for Sutton Homes of Care vanguard, explains the impact these professionals have had in Sutton.

Capitalising on the expertise of our Allied Health Professionals (AHP), the Sutton Homes of Care vanguard programme has established a diverse team to better train care home staff and in turn provide better care for the care home residents of Sutton. As their title so appropriately labels them, these professionals, whether they are pharmacists or dieticians, are in fact allies and essential to the delivery of the Sutton Homes of Care vanguard programme.

Care home residents have a variety of complex needs and we need to address these complex needs with a variety of disciplines. The Allied Health Professionals that the vanguard is currently partnered with are pharmacists, dieticians, physiotherapists and ambulance paramedics. Our AHPs support the Sutton vanguard programme through education and training of care homes and provide advice to our team for programme development and improvement.

Training and education of our care home staff comes to life in two different forms- classroom style and bespoke interventions.

Care home residents are at risk of falls therefore prevention and training of care home staff is essential for their safety and wellbeing. Our physiotherapist on the Sutton homes of care team provides falls prevention training in both a classroom format and in the care homes across the borough. The physiotherapist will work with the care home staff to promote falls prevention in the homes and is available to provide advice and instruction for individual residents who have been identified as being at high risk of falls.

Malnutrition in care home residents is a significant problem across the country. Our dietician has responded to this issue and developed training programmes in partnership with care home managers, clinical leads, care staff, pharmacists, link nurses and community dieticians to promote the goals of the programme and the needs of residents. Our dietician will visit each care home in the borough to standardise training and implement best practice to ensure care home staff are providing proper nutrition and identifying malnutrition.

Hospital visits and transfers can be difficult for care home residents. Through our partnership with London ambulance service we have been able to identify issues in the care home to hospital pathway and established the Hospital Transfer Pathway, affectionately known as the ‘red bag’ initiative. With our paramedic we were able to identify gaps within the pathway and frequent issues that were addressed with the red bag. If a care home resident has to go into hospital, whether as an emergency or for a planned stay, they take a pre-packed red bag. The red bag contains all of their personal belongings along with a set of standardised paperwork that includes key information about the resident’s general health, any existing medical conditions, medication they are taking, as well as highlighting the current health concern.  This means that ambulance and hospital staff can determine the treatment a resident needs more efficiently and effectively.

Providing multi-faceted, responsive, coordinated and patient-centred care is at the heart of our partnership with AHP’s. Genuine partnership and collaborative working (across sector) has enabled more joined-up services. The vanguard programme and AHP collaboration has enhanced communication across health and social care and we have well attended, regular care home forums for care home mangers which facilitates information sharing and best practice.

Viccie Nelson

Viccie Nelson, Programme Director, Sutton Homes of Care.

Originally from Australia, Viccie worked as a Physiotherapist before moving to the UK in 1996. She worked clinically as a physiotherapist predominantly in older people’s rehabilitation in acute and community settings, as well as developing expertise as a moving and handling adviser. She went on to manage clinical teams before working at a senior manager level within acute and community service organisations in London, moving across into commissioning as Assistant Director of Commissioning at Sutton and Merton PCT.

Following the birth of her second child, Viccie undertook a number of project roles within CCGs, Local Authorities and the Royal Marsden Hospital – Community Services Division. More recently, she worked for NHS England – London region on a pan-London programme to transform community services. She’s also been involved with the Healthy London Partnership.

As a local resident she is aware of the various challenges facing Sutton, and her clinical background ensures that she remains patient focused whilst working to meet national and local strategic challenges.