Cabinet Secretary for Health & Social Services, Vaughan Gething visited Cwm Taf University Health Board today (June 11) to launch the Welsh Government’s Strategy: ‘A Healthier Wales: Our long-term plan for health and social care’.

Mr Gething was accompanied by Mr Huw Irranca-Davies, Minister for Children Older People and Social Care.

The purpose of the visit was to find out more about two services ; firstly the Virtual Ward and secondly, Stay Well @Home.

The virtual ward was developed at St John’s Practice in Aberdare and consists of a Multi Disciplinary Team including GPs, Pharmacists, Occupational Therapists, Practice and District Nurses, Third sector colleagues,  GP surgery staff and Welsh ambulance colleagues. The team meets once a week to discuss sick or vulnerable patients who may require a more intensive input from the Primary Care Team to continue to live and function safely at home.  The  Virtual Ward Team responds rapidly to intervene and the turnaround from first input by a member of the team is normally no more than one week.

The Stay [email protected] Service is based at the A & E departments in Prince Charles and the Royal Glamorgan Hospitals.  The aim of the service is to improve an individual’s recovery while at home.

The community element of the service comprises a team made up of doctors, advanced nurse practitioners, registered nurses, health care support workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech & language therapists, dietitians, mental health nurse practitioners & administrators.

The first visit of the day was to meet Doreen, a patient who had benefited from the ‘virtual ward’ service.  Doreen had fallen at home on numerous occasions but following the collaborative working of her GP practice and occupational therapist, Alex Gigg, Doreen was able to remain independent and to be cared for in the community.

Vaughan Gething talking to Doreen

Alex is the first occupational therapist to work with a GP Practice within the Cwm Taf University Health Board area, to test an innovative approach to dealing with its casework.

“I work with adults that have functional difficulties within their own environment and look at strategies with them to help manage the things that they find problematic.

“I seek to enable people to be as independent as possible and to provide the most appropriate intervention by responding quickly to the needs identified by their GP.” Alex said.

The party then travelled to Ynysybwl to talk to Marilyn who had recently broken her ankle but due to the health board’s Stay Well @ Home service, she was able to recover and receive treatment in the comfort of her own home.

Vaughan Gething talking to Marilyn

[email protected] is a new and innovative way of working, where partners across Cwm Taf University Health Board, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil Country Borough Councils have joined forces to create a truly integrated way of working together to support those being discharged from hospital.

The team is made up of Assistant Therapy Practitioners, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Social Workers, whose primary focus is to either prevent individuals being admitted to hospital unnecessarily by providing early assessments in A&E departments, but also work to reduce an individual’s overall length of stay by completing assessments and through using community based services to support someone in their own home rather than a hospital bed.

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