Health Minister visits award-winning Delta Wellbeing and Home First team who are making a difference to residents by helping them to receive the care they need at home

Health Minister Eluned Morgan has visited the award-winning Delta Wellbeing and Home First team to see first-hand the difference they are making to residents across the region.

Based in Llanelli and working closely together, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Carmarthenshire County Council, Delta Wellbeing and the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust have set up a multi-disciplinary team of different health and care professionals to provide intermediate care – the care you need after hospital or to avoid admission to hospital.

The team supports people through a period of recovery and assessment at home – or as close to home as possible.

Ms Morgan visited Delta Wellbeing’s alarm-receiving monitoring centre and then met with members of the Home First team, which includes social workers, therapists, advanced paramedic practitioners, dieticians, intermediate care GPs, an acute nursing response team and in-house integrated reablement service.

She said: “What matters to older people in need of care and support is to be cared for in familiar surroundings with familiar people. They do not want to go to hospital unless this is really necessary.

“They are also less likely to lose their confidence and muscle strength, and less likely to pick up infections than in hospital.

“We are committed to driving change and transformation, and going further, faster to make sure more people can get the care and support they need at home or in their community. To enable this, learning about best practice needs to be shared across Wales.

“The Home First team in Carmarthenshire is a fantastic example of an integrated system which is delivering a radical, person-centred approach to wellbeing, care and support in the community. This is helping to avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital and reducing Pathways of Care Delays across the region.”

During her visit, Ms Morgan announced an extra £8 million to support people at greatest risk to stay well, to receive care at or close to home and reduce pressure on hospitals.

The money will be used to increase community health and social care workforce capacity in the evenings and on weekends including increasing the hours of community nurses and end of life care clinical nurse specialists. It will also deliver services such as the assessment of those people living with frailty or other complex needs and agreeing a plan to support their wellbeing and independence at home, particularly during illness or following an injury.

In the last year nearly £145 million has been invested through the Welsh Government Regional Integration Fund on projects to provide care closer to home.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Social Services Cllr Jane Tremlett said: “Enabling patients to return home earlier from hospital settings and offering social care teams another tool to remotely support clients in the community allows for a more pro-active and preventative approach so where possible we can delay or even stop entry to these services. The Home First team provides a single point of access to ensure that people access the right part of the system, first time. This includes providing clinically safe alternatives to hospital where appropriate and supporting people to remain within their own homes with the right support.

“As part of this, Delta Wellbeing supports patients to return home from hospital by providing care support for a short period of time until reablement or long-term providers can be found. With staff based at the hospital, they work with the health board and the council’s social care teams to ensure patients can be discharged at the earliest opportunity by providing essential support to prevent avoidable hospital admissions, freeing up hospital bed capacity, releasing valuable staff time, maintaining patient flow and avoiding medically fit patients remaining in hospital for longer. This supports the patient to regain their strength and independence and remain at home for as long as possible.”

Jill Paterson Director of Primary Care, Community and Long-Term Care at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “We were pleased to be able to tell the Health Minister Eluned Morgan about the great work being done to support our Home First initiatives. It demonstrates partnership working at its best and we are seeing some very positive outcomes thanks to this approach to healthcare. We look forward to continuing to work with Carmarthenshire County Council, Delta Wellbeing, the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust and a range of third sector partners.”

Home First won the award for Delivering Person-Centred Services and the special award for Outstanding Contribution to Transforming Health and Care at the 2022 NHS Wales Awards.

Deidre Bromham, from Pontardawe, says she would not have recovered so well from her stroke had it not been for the quick response of the Home First team and Delta Wellbeing’s response service.

The 73-year-old was visiting Llanelli for the day when she collapsed in a café and an ambulance was called. Initially thought to be a fall, the Home First team saw the incident logged on the system and went to assist. Paramedic Lewis Jones immediately realised Mrs Bromham had suffered a stroke and needed to get to hospital as soon as possible. Delta Wellbeing’s response team provided the necessary lifting equipment to get Mrs Bromham up from the floor and into a wheelchair, and then provided the transport to take her to Prince Philip Hospital where she was able to receive thrombolysis treatment, which must be given within four-and-a-half hours of stroke symptoms starting.

Mrs Bromham, who is now back home with her family, said: “It was frightening, but I heard Lewis’s voice telling me he was going to look after me, and he did, I felt safe. If they hadn’t have got me to hospital so quickly, it could have been so much worse.”

Delta Wellbeing is a Local Authority Trading Company, owned by Carmarthenshire County Council, and provides assistive technology and proactive monitoring to support older and vulnerable people to live more independently.

It also works closely with the health board to deliver telehealth to support patients to monitor cardiac, lung function, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and orthopaedic pre-habilitation remotely from their own homes using a range of health equipment paired to a mobile phone app. This project is transforming the way care is being delivered using technology to help patients manage their conditions, maintaining their health and wellbeing and to live independently, improving their overall quality of life.