Introducing the OPAL Solihull team

Written by Cassie Simpson on .

Team photo June 2018

More than 40 health and care professionals attended an awareness day about UHB's new OPAL Solihull service and the work of Solihull Community Services.

Older Person’s Assessment and Liaison (OPAL) is the new name for the Frailty Advice and Support Team (FAST).  The innovative service, based at Solihull Hospital, is now being relaunched and expanded. More staff have been recruited as part of OPAL’s work to offer better care to older people while ensuring only necessary admissions to hospital.

Photo caption: Members of the OPAL team. L-R: Sarah Flynn, Dr Teresa Quigley, Dr Katrina Davies, Julie Gough, Rachael Hannon, Josie Braga, Marie Ashford, Cheryl Mason, Samantha Fawcett and Angela Edward

OPAL Solihull provides a timely, multidisciplinary, patient-centred, comprehensive assessment to those who have an urgent need. 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. Patients also receive OPAL assessments within the Acute Medical Unit.

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.

The idea of the learning day, organised by OPAL in June, was for the new staff to find out about the many Trust community services and also to meet their colleagues in these teams.

OPAL works very closely with Solihull community teams, referring patients who need their services, and to different teams who offer care in a wide variety of areas such as wound management and speech and language therapy.

The name change was instituted in order to align names of all the frailty services across the Birmingham and Solihull Sustainability and Transformation Partnership. The idea was to go for an internationally recognised term for front door older people’s services.

The 14 strong OPAL team will operate a seven days a week service from August.

Consultant Teresa Quigley said the day had been a great success: “Having initially started out as a small event for new team members, it quickly became clear that this event would be extremely useful for a wide range of staff from across the Trust. We were delighted that we had attendees from both primary care and other trust sites wishing to know more about Solihull Community Services. In addition to the comprehensive amounts of information shared, this event enabled teams to forge links and develop relationships, building strong foundations for future integration and collaboration across acute and community services trust wide.”

Held in the Education Centre Lecture Theatre at Solihull Hospital, the learning day featured presentations from 17 community team services, and information stands were available providing information on, Marie Curie Hospice West Midlands, Solihull adult neuro- rehabilitation team and the nutrition support service.

The event proved so popular that it was broadened so that others across the Trust and the wider NHS could attend. First to present was Katie Leahy who gave an overview of the speech and language service, before Lisa Alexander spoke about nutrition support.

Sue Barclay, lead respiratory nurse for the Solihull community respiratory team, spoke about what her team provides and how to refer into the service.

Jessica Burton and Stephanie Roe, from the continence service, outlined their work helping “maintain dignity and promote independence’’.

Kate Harms, of the rapid response community team, spoke about her team and how it works with OPAL and the wider community teams.

Paula Bennett, a tissue viability nurse gave a brief overview of what the nurses offer patients.

Other presenters from the following areas also gave talks about their work: community IV, the consultant elderly medicine community service, diabetes service, supported integrated discharge (SID) and Solihull adult neuro team, falls and intermediate care, palliative care, community matrons and support to care homes.

The event proved to be so popular that it is has been proposed that a similar event is held again.

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