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Whole person care

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has issued a report examining the measures required should England’s health and care system move towards the provision of ‘whole person care.’  With the benefit of making the connections between physical health, mental health and social care needs, and supporting people to remain in their own homes as long as they wish, whole person care provides joined up responses to individual needs.

Success is dependent on a number of factors including a long-term investment mindset, aligned incentives, effective use of technology and a flexible workforce. The report concludes that there is clear potential to deliver better outcomes if care services are more coordinated.

Commenting on the report Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) professional adviser, Eve Jenner, said that “physiotherapists were well placed to support whole person care” adding:

“They can act as single point of contact, care coordinators or as part of a team of health and social care professionals providing holistic assessment and treatment to people with long-term conditions.Key success points for whole person care include peer support, tapping into the expertise of others with the same condition, and personalised care plans.  For professionals, the ability to share online access to personal health and care records is also vital.  This last point echoes moves already being made within the health profession to share records.  Not only does this lead to streamlined care, it also saves time and costs and helps to speed up effective treatments.

Simple measures such as electronic storage of patient records are a key step towards this goal.  But not only does electronic storage facilitate the sharing of records, it also streamlines processes.  When patient records are available at the touch of a button there is no wasted time in searching for mis-filed records, no wondering if the record shown is the latest one and no time spent on gathering evidence in preparation for each client appointment.

For health professionals such as physiotherapists and osteopaths, the electronic storing of patient records helps to save administration time which can better be spent on patient treatments.  For health and care professionals as a whole, the move towards whole person care will help them to cost effectively provide the best treatment pathway available for the individual.  The IPPR has identified many issues which are critical for the success of whole person care and they will be looking at these in more depth over the next 12 months.   We’ll keep an eye out for these follow-ups and report as appropriate.

Reaching out

A study in the USA has revealed the benefits of automated telephone calls for patients with hypertension.  Taking a sample of 64,773 hypertension patients, half were sent a recorded phone message inviting them to have their blood pressure monitored at a clinic whilst the rest received no such invitation.

After four weeks it was found that 32.5% of those who had received a call had controlled their blood pressure against a base of 23.7% for those who had not received a call.  Although researchers did not collect data on measures taken by patients to control blood pressure it is believed the calls played an important part in raising patient awareness.

Certainly this study mirrors the findings of other surveys in the way in which patient care can be improved by a simple call.  Whether by encouraging patients to have a check up or replacing costly health visits with a simple call, the telephone is increasingly playing its part in enhancing health care.

One particularly successful way in which phone calls are being brought into the front line is in reminding patients about their appointments.  Whether issued via automated phone message or by text, a simple reminder can make a substantial contribution towards reducing the number of “no shows.”

This has two benefits.  Firstly it encourages patients to attend booked appointments and secondly it encourages them to notify the health practice should they be unable to attend for any reason.  With an early warning of a cancelled appointment the practice has the chance to book in another patient; thus benefitting the practice, the patient and boosting the overall level of patient care.

In our ever busier lives, it is inevitable that we will forget appointments from time to time and an automated phone or text message can be that vital memory jogger which we all need.  Health care practitioners from opticians to physiotherapists and even vets are using messaging for everything from a reminder to pick up some new medication or book a check up to reminders about appointments which have been made.  For example this writer received a text from their vet recently reminding them to pick up a fresh batch of worming medicine for a pet.

In summary, phone reminders can save “no shows, they can ensure patients receive the treatment which they need and they can help to keep health practitioners busy at all times.

The Draft Care and Support Bill

After months of speculation, leaks and pre-emptive comments, the draft Care and Support Bill has been published.  Accompanied by eight fact sheets, impact and equality assessments the Bill is no lightweight.  For those interested in reading the full text or who intend to post formal comments on individual clauses the link to the bill is shown at the end of this article.

In releasing the Bill the Government’s stated aim is to consolidate a number of different laws into a single statute and to transform social care “from a service that reacts to crises to one that focuses on prevention and is built around the needs and goals of people”

One of the central planks of the Bill is the idea that people will control over how their individual needs are to be met.  This includes both a drive towards remaining in the family home for as long as possible and a personal budget to enable individuals to optimise their own care.   This will enable individuals to create a care package which is far more wide reaching than a simple need to be bathed or dressed.  In Factsheet 4 one example given is that part of the budget could be spent on gym membership which provides the exercise needed to aid recovery.

With personal care based on individual needs the way is open for health practitioners to make a real difference to people’s lives.  Whether by providing osteopathy or chiropody services, massage or exercise regimes or even helping with personal appearance; life could become far more fulfilling for those helping to provide personal care services.

This means that it is more important than ever to take steps to maximise patient care times and minimise “office” time.  One vital step in this direction could be the use of a virtual receptionist service.  With calls, diary appointments and even patient records taken care of the health practitioner can concentrate on making the most of helping their clients and growing their business.

By the time the draft Care and Support Bill has would its way through the Parliamentary process it may well be a very different animal from the one we see today.  But, whatever the result, maximising patient care time is one step that we can all take with or without the Bill.

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