A ground-breaking project which will allow care homes to share digital records with hospitals, GPs and other health services is being introduced across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
A grant of £300,000 from NHS Digital has been secured to fund the roll out to care homes of the digital care record system, Connecting Care, bringing them in line with more than 24 other health and care organisations in the area which already use the system.
Connecting Care is one of the most advanced digital care records in the country and is used for sharing information, providing health and care professionals with instant, secure access to up-to-date health and social care records.
Access to the system means individuals with complex care needs, such as care home residents, will have their health and social care information in once place, including GP appointments, hospital admissions and medication. The update will make Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire one of the first areas in the country to share data with care homes in this way.
The bid for funding was made by South Gloucestershire Council, Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council and Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), supported by South Central and West Commissioning Support Unit.
The project has begun at the Orders of St John Care Trust in South Gloucestershire and will be made available to up to 50 care homes in the coming months.
Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG Project Manager Harriet Soderberg, who works across health and social care, explains more:
Bringing care homes into the Connecting Care system will allow authorised care home staff immediate access to important information shared by other health and social care professionals. It will help ensure care home residents do not have to tell their story more than once, improve the safety and efficiency of patient transfers between hospital and care homes and enable professionals to make the right care decisions based on up to date information. This is a key part of our ambition to improve digital coordination between different health and social care services. Care homes are an essential part of our health and care system and enabling them to join Connecting Care will support all care professionals to provide better, safer and more efficient care to people who live in care homes. This is a truly innovative step towards digital integration and we are excited to be offering the opportunity for care homes in our region to move forward with us and provide the best care
Cllr Ben Stokes, South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health, said:
I am delighted that South Gloucestershire Council has taken the lead role in successfully bidding for NHS England funds and becoming a Digital Pathfinder on behalf of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. This initiative will ensure that people being discharged from hospital to a care home, or being admitted to hospital from a care home will only have to tell their story once and that health and social care professionals will have the appropriate information they need to care for people in the best and most secure format possible. This project is a national exemplar and we will be sharing our success with other Councils and NHS colleagues to promote best practice.
Cllr Mike Bell, deputy leader of North Somerset Council and Executive Member with responsibility for adult social care, said:
We are delighted that this collaboration has been successful and that care homes in North Somerset will benefit from improved access to information to support clients with safer and more timely discharges from hospital as well as supporting the hospitals with more informed admissions from the care sector.
North Bristol NHS Trust Integrated Discharge Service lead, Helen Mee, said:
The ability to instantly access a care record with more information about our patient will allow us to make significant improvements to our setting of goals. It will help with our work to establishing where individual patients need to go when they leave hospital and how they want to be cared for when they’re with us. It will help us to provide the person centred care we strive to achieve.
An example of how Connecting Care can help care homes can be found in Linda’s story