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Is my resident well?

Care home staff are being encouraged to think ‘Is my resident well?’ as part of  a new training programme to help spot the early warning signs of those they care for becoming unwell.

Most of us know that there are simple things we do everyday to look after ourselves; making sure we eat, drink plenty of fluids and taking care of our physical needs. When something isn’t quite right, we take steps to prevent it getting worse or seek medical advice.

Some people however, rely on others to ensure their basic needs are looked after and may themselves not always notice the small warning signs that they may becoming unwell.

This can often be the case for care home residents, who need extra help and support to stay well and recognise when things are not right. Across the country, this role is largely carried out by medically untrained care workers.

A new guide called ‘Is my resident well?’ and associated training programme is being rolled out to care homes across North West London to support these care workers.

The guide contains 10 questions for carers to think about whilst providing every day care, like washing and dressing. The 10 questions go through simple steps to check; breathing, bowel habits, hydration, pain, confusion, wellbeing and skin health (specifically looking out for the early signs of pressure sores).

Dr Asha Katwa GP and clinical lead for the guide and training, (pictured far right) explained: “This pocket guide is designed to provide a simple method for care workers to assess their residents.

By repeating the 10 questions during everyday interactions with the people they care for, it is hoped that care workers will be more confident in recognising some early warning signs of deterioration and be empowered to know what to do, to get the right help when needed.”

The guide provides practical advice on what to do if someone shows signs of being unwell or deterioration and how to escalate to get the right help. It includes guidance on what to do if a resident falls or is suspected of having sepsis (serious infection).

The guide also provides practical information about how to prepare to call an NHS service when requesting medical help.

“This may sound simple,” said Dr Katwa, “But, in order to get the best help and advice when calling a GP, 111 or 999, care workers need to provide as much information about the resident as possible. Their role is vital in helping health care professionals provide the right support and advice so that decisions for their residents are made in accordance with any known wishes and care plans. In doing so, this training aims to encourage care workers to act as advocates for the residents they care for, particularly if the resident cannot communicate their needs”.

Across NW London 40 clinical staff are being trained during June on how to use the guide and provided with a training programme to go on and train care home staff and carers. The aim is to have 40 percent of care homes in NW London using the guide by the end of 2018/19.

After receiving training, one of the trainers who will be working with care homes in Ealing, Meadow House Hospice, Clinical Nurse Specialist Jo Lambert (pictured front, fifth, left to right) said: “I am really excited to start training care home staff how to use the new guide. I can see real potential in helping residents stay well, and improving communication between care homes and NHS services that support them.

“From the perspective of the hospice, we get a lot of calls from care homes whose residents may need hospice support. If carers use the guide and prompts while discussing concerns, we will be able to gather more information on a resident’s condition, which will support the clinical decisions we make, improving wellbeing and quality of care.”

The guide has been developed by the North West London health and care partnership, with  staff from: local authorities, care homes, NHS organisations, hospice and supported by Health Education England, with the aim that providing more information to front line carers will help them to provide even better care and support to the people they look after.

Following the initial training, it is hoped that the the guide and training will be widely adopted within more care homes across North West London.