The British Red Cross has launched a pilot scheme in North Wales to help people build independence and better links with their communities and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions. The move comes thanks to a £84,460 grant from North Wales Freemasons
The Pathways to Better Health service aims to help over-50s in Conwy and Denbighshire who have been identified as needing extra support due to a pattern of frequent hospital attendance or calls to the emergency services.
The project will help people who call 999 or go to emergency departments (ED) more than 12 times a year, many of whom are among the most vulnerable members of our communities with few alternative sources of help. They may have multiple, complex needs including loneliness, social isolation or drug and alcohol dependency issues.
Figures for 2017 show that frequent attenders accounted for 86,000 Welsh ED attendances costing £36.4 million to the NHS.
The scheme, which runs for a year, will enable trained Red Cross staff to work in partnership with emergency services and ED teams to find people who could benefit, and refer them to the service.
The project team will then work with people to identify the root causes of their frequent attendance, and support them to develop coping strategies. By providing emotional and practical support, helping to build confidence, and signposting to other services in their community that could help, the team will aim to increase a person’s health and well-being, independence and resilience.
It is hoped this will reduce the number of calls to the emergency services and visits to the NHS, saving money, freeing up resources and improving the lives of those who are helped by the project.
In a previous pilot project in Swansea, the results revealed 96 per cent of people helped reported a positive change in emotional health, a 70 per cent positive change in physical health and a 69 per cent positive change in reducing loneliness and isolation.
The pilot, which was launched by the British Red Cross in November 2017, covered the Western Bay area in Wales including Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea. It helped 22 people for 16 weeks and resulted in a huge reduction in 999 calls and hospital attendances from the participants.
The grant from North Wales Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Stanislava Sofrenic, Independent Living Operations Manager for Red Cross Wales said: 'We are thrilled to have launched this scheme in North Wales. I’d like to thank North Wales Freemasons for their generous donation, which has enabled us to set up this invaluable scheme.
'Our smaller pilot project in Swansea demonstrated that early intervention with people who use NHS and emergency services frequently has a significant impact both on improving their lives and reducing pressures on NHS and emergency services’ resources. We are looking forward to working with our partner organisations over the next 12 months and helping people across Conwy and Denbighshire.'
John Hoult, Provincial Grand Master for North Wales, said: 'We’re very pleased to be able to support the fantastic work being done by the British Red Cross in North Wales. This will have a huge impact on the users of the emergency services and will make a big difference to improving their lives.'