Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan joined representatives from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) on a visit to a ground-breaking project which is positively impacting the lives of care home residents and staff in Bridgend.
Led by clinical lead specialist speech and language therapist Sheiladen Aquino, the project team introduced the Minister to Brocastle Manor Care Home residents virtually to demonstrate a new method of ensuring residents in care homes, who have eating, drinking, and swallowing difficulties, can receive online care from multiple health professionals at the same time. The integrated approach is the first of its kind in Wales, reducing in-person appointments and preventable hospital stays for residents.
Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan said:
“The Enhanced Community Services for Care Home Residents service in Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board demonstrates the important impact of speech and language therapy intervention in the community for people who struggle with swallowing, nutrition and taking medication. The team is doing outstanding work in delivering seamless person-centred care to care home residents.
“It is also really impressive to see how speech and language therapists in the health board have demonstrated such appetite and creativity when adapting their practices to include telehealth as a successful way in clinically engaging with their patients.
“I am delighted to have this opportunity to see in person how allied health professionals are transforming their services to deliver more preventative, community-based care to support people to stay well and independent.”
Philippa Cotterill, head of the Wales office for the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, said:
“This new integrated approach to delivering speech and language therapy services among other things, is proving very successful and popular with care home residents. Evidence shows that elderly people can deteriorate rapidly. With swallowing difficulties being very common, it’s imperative they are seen by speech and language therapists, who can assess their eating, drinking and swallowing needs and work with other health professionals to ensure they get the right support at the right time.”
Sheiladen Aquino, Clinical Lead Speech & Language Therapist for the project said:
“Disjointed care in elderly patients is proven to lead to hospital admission. By integrating services in this way, care is wrapped around the individual.”
Swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) can cause malnutrition and affect taking medication which significantly affects the health of residents in care homes. Before this project, speech and language therapists (who are experts at supporting people with eating and drinking difficulties as well as communication needs), provided separate home visits to other healthcare professionals. Care home residents needed to be referred to separate healthcare professionals by their GP and were therefore placed on multiple waiting lists. While waiting for appointments, residents often continued to deteriorate, with a significant effect on the person and their relatives, leading to unnecessary stress, costs, and inefficiencies.
The Enhanced Community Services for Care Home Residents by Allied Health Professionals project team comprises Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, and Bridgend County Borough Council and the event was held at Trem Y Mor Community Resource Team. The pilot project is being supported by the Bevan Exemplar Programme, which enables health and care staff across Wales to develop and test their own ideas to improve and transform health and care.