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Swansea Bay NHS

Specialist role introduced to help reduce impact of falls

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As an occupational therapist, one of Eleri D’Arcy’s passions has always been striving to prevent the number of falls that occur in day to day life.

Whether it’s offering advice around making changes at home or providing support if someone has suffered a fall, her role has centred on reducing the risks and potential impacts associated with falling.

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“Occupational therapists tend to look at falls holistically; considering the physical and cognitive challenges a person may face, the environment, levels of activity, understanding of risks and their personal preferences and goals,” Eleri, pictured, said.

“We look at how people can remain independent and active, doing the things they want to do, while still being aware of the risks around falls.

“Doing activities that are important to us as individuals on a day to day basis does bring an element of risk, however, if we completely took that risk away we would be impacting someone’s quality of life.

“With a background in occupational therapy, I’m interested in how people function on a day to day basis and how they manage that ever-present risk.”

Having gained experience in a variety of settings, including general elderly care, mental health units, learning disabilities, hospitals and in the community, Eleri has now taken on the role of falls quality improvement lead in Swansea Bay.

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The role, which is a new addition to the health board, means she can now focus all of her attention on working with staff to enhance falls prevention services and educating patients about the support available to them.

She added: “My interest in falls has come from a long history of working in various clinical settings.

“It’s really given me an insight into how falls can impact a person’s life.”

Not only will Eleri be working with frontline staff to develop new initiatives around preventing falls, part of her role will see her monitoring patient data to better understand where more support is needed.

“My job is to firstly encourage and welcome innovation,” she said. “Often it’s those on the frontline, who work with patients every day, as well as the service users themselves, who have the best ideas.

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“These specialist roles are pivotal at being able to drive innovation. They help build momentum and resilience in services so it’s a fantastic step forward for Swansea Bay.

“My role will benefit patients by putting mechanisms in place where their voices are heard, supporting the development of clear pathways so there is easier access to falls services, and supporting the education of staff so they are better equipped to prevent and manage falls.

“Sometimes we’re at a loss at what to do if a loved one has a fall and the go to response is ‘call an ambulance’ and ‘go to ED’. It’s important to provide education so people can access the correct and safe advice which means they don’t necessarily need to go into hospital.

“We want to make sure we’re empowering service users, whether they’re at home or in the community, so they feel confident to know how to manage a fall and also what to do following a fall in terms of accessing the right support.”

The role of the falls quality improvement lead has been introduced after falls prevention was identified as one of five priority areas that make a real difference to the lives of patients, families and staff.

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Alongside falls prevention, end of life care, healthcare acquired infection, sepsis and suicide prevention have been named as the four remaining quality and safety priorities this year.

Work is already taking place to address each priority and will continue across Swansea Bay so that positive improvements can be made going forward.

Eleri said: “It’s absolutely fantastic that the health board has recognised falls prevention as a quality priority.

“Falls are a leading contributor to serious injury and death for older people in particular.

“The functional impact of a fall is huge. As well as the physical, mental and emotional harm that can be caused to the person themselves, there is also considerable impact to family, friends, carers and staff.

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“If we can prevents falls from happening in the first place then we can positively affect healthcare in general. Getting in early and stopping that fall from happening, where possible, will have a far reaching positive economic, social and health effect for everyone involved.

“Ultimately, if a fall does happen we want to reduce its impact. We want that person to receive the best treatment quickly and safely; to get the relevant and effective aftercare, rehabilitation and support in a timely way. That way the effect of that fall is reduced and isn’t something that person has to live with for the rest of their lives.”

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Swansea Bay NHS

Plans for Vascular Hybrid Theatre at Morriston Hospital get a major boost

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Plans for a state-of-the-art new operating theatre at Morriston Hospital which combines a traditional operating room with advanced medical imagery, have taken a huge step forward.

Health and Social Services Minister Eluned Morgan has endorsed the high level multi million pound proposal. This means Swansea Bay University Health Board can now develop the next-stage detailed business case for the Vascular Hybrid Theatre for South West Wales.

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Vascular surgery treats patients with diseased arteries and veins. Blocked arteries can result in limb loss (amputation) and swollen blood vessels (aneurysms) which can burst, resulting in sudden death.

The Vascular Hybrid Theatre, the first in South West Wales, will combine operating theatre functionality and state of the art X-ray imaging equipment. It will treat around 500 patients a year, and some patients who currently need to go to England for treatment will be able to have their care in Swansea instead. The theatre could open early in 2025.

The new theatre will be used by Morrison Hospital’s vascular surgeons and radiologists to carry out minimally invasive techniques, often known as ‘keyhole surgery.

Compared with traditional surgery, hybrid operating theatre surgery is less invasive and less traumatic for patients. The hybrid approach will give patients quicker access to surgery and in some cases could mean the difference between limbs, and lives, being saved.

Currently, a significant number of South West Wales’ patients undergo staged procedures during their care, which can lead to multiple or prolonged stays in hospital.

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Swansea bay University Health Board say that access to these new advanced surgical technologies will allow Morriston’s vascular surgeons to perform both minimally-invasive image guided procedures, as well as traditional open surgery. This will not only improve the overall patient experience, but reduce the risk of amputation, reduce the length of stay in hospital and cut waiting times. 

The hybrid theatre will treat patients from the Swansea Bay, Hywel Dda and Powys health board areas.

Investment in the new theatre will also save a significant amount of money for the health service because the surgical techniques the hybrid model supports not only improve patient outcomes, they are also much more efficient.

The hybrid theatre will also support the clinical staff teaching.

Huma Stone, Swansea Bay UHB’s Associate Service Director, Clinical Support Services for Morriston Hospital, said: “We welcome this long awaited development and are excited that we will be able to treat patients using a combination of traditional surgery and the latest minimally invasive (keyhole) treatments at the same time, saving lives and limbs. This also reduces the number of times a patient is admitted, and shortens the patient stay in hospital.”

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Senior Consultant Vascular Surgeon Louis Fligelstone said: “This brings state of the art facilities to west Wales that will enable optimal treatment of patients with swollen blood vessels (aneurysms) and blocked blood vessels and will save lives and limbs, whilst reducing the time patients spend in hospital.” 

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Swansea Bay NHS

£2.5m investment aims to help tackle hospital waiting lists in Swansea Bay by expanding care after surgery

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photo of woman lying in hospital bed

Swansea Bay University Health Board say a £2.5million investment in a new service that provides enhanced recovery support for patients following some types of complex surgery, will open the way for Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospitals to do even more to tackle waiting lists.

In the wake of the two-year+ pandemic, pressure on waiting lists is higher than ever. Changes to how Swansea Bay University Health Board delivers services; and investment in staff and equipment, are aimed at bringing those waits down the health board says.

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One of the key investments is focused on expanding enhanced post-operative care facilities, which offer a step up from general ward care for patients who need extra support immediately after their operation.

This includes offering patients advanced pain relief, blood pressure monitoring and oxygen support in the immediate 24-48 hour post-operative period.

These facilities and services are not as intensive as high dependency or intensive care units. However, this additional layer of care will offer Swansea Bay hospitals greater flexibility over where that surgery can be carried out.

Opening these services in Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospitals mean they will soon be able to offer a wider range of certain surgeries which are currently only carried out in Morriston Hospital.

Pankaj Kumar, Deputy Group Medical Director, Morriston Hospital and the project lead said: “In providing these enhanced post-operative care facilities, the health board is providing right-sized, fit for purpose, post-operative care that is responsive to every patients’ needs and is efficient in its delivery of care.

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“It will lead to improved patient care and better clinical outcomes for patients, and will also reduce the time they spend in hospital.”

The health board says that expanding these services will also ease the pressure on critical care units located on the Morriston site, and reduce the risk of a scheduled operation being cancelled at the last minute because an emergency patient needed the bed.

Singleton Hospital, which already carries out some complex surgery, will benefit from four enhanced post-operative recovery beds to begin with (eventual plan is for six beds) offering the enhanced post-operative recovery facilities particularly for colorectal and gynaecology patients.

Neath Port Talbot’s plan to become the Orthopaedic Centre of Excellence will be supported by enhanced recovery unit beds being introduced in phase two, with the commissioning of three beds. This development will also help urology surgical patients.

Morriston Hospital already has advanced post-operative care beds as part of post-anaesthetic care unit services to complement its higher level of critical care beds.

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Mumbles

Breakfast club dishes up dose of wellness to socially isolated

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A new breakfast club is dishing up the opportunity for people in Swansea to connect with each other.

The well-being project is partly funded by the Bay Health Cluster, which is made up of eight GP practices spread across the Sketty, Uplands, Mumbles and Gower areas, as it aims to tackle social isolation among adults.

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Based at Linden Church in West Cross, the weekly drop-ins are run by Red Community Project, an organisation which aims to bring people together and help build good relationships.

Each person is offered a cooked breakfast and is encouraged to get to know those around them.

Rachel Matthews, from Red Community Project, said: “We are hoping to make Linden Church a well-being hub in the area.

“Every Wednesday we have a free breakfast club with a cooked breakfast and our target group is people who are lonely.

“It is one of the target issues in West Cross as it’s an area with no Men’s Shed or anything for men, in particular, with mental health issues.

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“We have had a mixture of people come so far. We’ve even had the police attend, as well as the local postman, so it’s definitely got a community feel to it.

“We are hoping to build up a safe place for people to come and we hope it is going to grow.”
Anyone living in the nearby area is welcome to attend the weekly drop-ins, whether they feel lonely or not.

One person who has enjoyed going along is Vance Horn.

He said: “I think it’s a great project because it gives me a break from my flat and gives me time to be with other people.

“I have been coming along since the start.

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“The food here is really nice and the staff are brilliant. They are very generous in giving up their free time.”

While Jeremy Breem added: “I come here for breakfast every Wednesday and I’ve met some nice people through it.

“It helps to get you out of the house and seeing people, which I think is great.”

John Bennett is just one of the multiple volunteers who give up their time to cook, chat and clean up at the weekly meet-up.

Red Community Project also oversees the local food bank in Mumbles, with many of those volunteers lending a hand at the breakfast club too.

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“It’s nice to be able to give something back to people,” Mr Bennett said.

“Some of the people here may not see anybody again or talk to anybody again for the rest of the day.

“At least here they can come and have something to eat or have a chat and hopefully it makes them feel a bit better.

“They must feel like it’s something nice to come to as we have offers of help from them to do the dishes afterwards, so it’s nice they want to give something back to us as well.

“You definitely get something out of helping other people.”

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Bay Health Cluster lead, Dr Nicola Jones, said: “We are delighted to be able to help support the West Cross Well-being Project.

“It is providing a much-needed space to allow the local population to re-establish those vital connections to each other which we all missed out on during the Covid-19 pandemic, and which are vital for maintaining a healthy, thriving community.”

Lead image: Dan Evans, Barbara Matthews and Rachel Matthews of Red Community Project (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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