A team of health and care professionals in Norwich - who have helped more than 1600 people cope with a health or social care crisis - have been shortlisted for a national award.
The Norwich Escalation Avoidance Team, or NEAT, has been shortlisted in the Health Service Journal Awards category for “Improved Partnerships Between Health and Local Government”. They will find out if they have won after judging, in November.
The Chair of NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group, Tracy Williams, said: “We are all thrilled and immensely proud that the NEAT has been shortlisted. Even to get this far is well-deserved recognition. The commitment and collaboration between the partner organisations that make up NEAT has been instrumental in this great achievement.”
The NEAT was put together last year by colleagues from the NHS, social care and voluntary groups, working together. They take calls from GPs, social workers or other health and care professionals who may be worried about a patient who is ill or ‘in crisis’ and heading for an admission to hospital or a care home unless they get urgent support.
The NEAT staff swing into action, co-ordinating a bespoke package of health or care support until the crisis is over, so they can recover at home. The patient may need medical interventions, equipment, nursing, therapy or social care.
By pooling their expertise they arrange the most appropriate package of care or support to meet the needs of each patient, to ensure their problem is quickly resolved. They also put in place plans to avoid problems in the future. This might mean carefully co-ordinated visits by several health or care professionals working together, and it might involve asking a local voluntary group such as Age UK Norwich or Voluntary Norfolk to provide some befriending or social support.
If people need to go to hospital they will, but in most cases they are helped to stay at home where they want to be.
Nick Pryke, Assistant Director of Community Services (Norwich) for Adult Social Services and Norfolk Community Health & Care NHS Trust, said: “NEAT enables people to stay in control of their health and wellbeing and, with support, to quickly recover from a crisis and continue to live their lives fully in their local community.”
Claire Leborgne, Commissioning Manager with NHS Norwich CCG who was instrumental in setting up the NEAT added: “This is wonderful news and justly deserved. “NEAT is a great example of what can be achieved within existing resources by working better together to improve the health and wellbeing of people in our community," she said. Earlier this year, the NEAT team celebrated its first year milestone at their base within the NHS 111 headquarters, on the Broadland Business Park in Norwich.
- Most people referred to the NEAT have multiple health problems, or social issues such as loneliness and isolation
62 per cent of referrals into the NEAT are for people aged over 80 years old
Very often they are frail and may need befriending or social support to help them remain independent.
NEAT also supports people to be discharged from hospital when they no longer require acute care, but need a period of extra help when they return home.
Because the NEAT operates efficiently in the background, it is likely that most patients or clients are unaware of the NEAT’s existence and were unaware that staff from NEAT arranged the stepped-up package of care they received. But local health and care professionals who referred them into the NEAT have certainly appreciated the service. It has given them assurance that their patient or client has received the support they needed, and also avoided unnecessary admissions to hospital.