Funding boost secures future for FAST project

Written by Cassie Simpson on .

FAST team photo March 2018 smallAn innovative new service for older people living with frailty in Solihull has secured its future after a successful three month trial.

The Frailty Advice and Support Team (FAST) was set up at Solihull Hospital in October 2017 to offer better care to older people living with frailty while ensuring only necessary admissions to hospital.

Now NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG has awarded permanent funding to the project, and this means it can now recruit to a full team and be rolled out to all GPs in the Solihull area.

Caption: Members of the Frailty Advice and Support Team

FAST provides a timely, multidisciplinary, patient-centred, comprehensive assessment to those who have an urgent need for care.  The team provides patients with early access to expert advice, regardless of whether they are referred by a GP, community services or arrive at the hospital front door. 

Patients are seen in the Medical Day Hospital where the environment is calmer, plus they also have access to same day tests and results.  They also benefit from the provision of holistic wraparound services which means after receiving a highly skilled assessment, patients are discharged home with support tailored to their needs from community teams including rapid response community nursing, district nursing, occupational therapy, respiratory, falls service and Macmillan.

Through Vanguard funding, awarded to the Solihull Together programme, FAST was able to pilot the new service from October 2017 to December 2017 with three GP surgeries referring patients to the team.

Jo Hodgkiss, project manager, said: “The pilot could not have worked without the full support and commitment of Trust staff, community services and colleagues who were actively involved at every stage. Staff suggested and supported new ways of working, keeping patient care at the centre of every decision, and the project team would like to thank each and every one of them for their valued commitment and
support which has made FAST a success.”

One patient spoke of their experience with FAST, saying: “Absolutely excellent service. I was expecting to be here until late in the evening, but we were only here until lunchtime.”

As well as providing better care for patients, the team aims to discharge an average of five patients a day who would have normally been admitted to the hospital. This also means that significant financial savings are made.

FAST received the good news in December 2017 that they have secured investment from NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG, which now means they will be able to expand their service and roll it out to GPs across Solihull.  Recruitment has started to recruit a team which will consist of consultant geriatricians, advanced clinical practitioners, nurses/therapists and FAST assistants.

Dr Zoe Wyrko, the clinician behind the project, said: “The FAST team is already living up to its name as lots of the feedback we’ve received from users and carers are impressed with the speed of the service. We are looking forward to building the FAST team and taking the service forward with the full support of community colleagues and services.”

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