Older People in Bo’ness encouraged to ask Alfy

A special round-the-clock helpline has been launched in Bo’ness to support older people with health problems and enable them to stay well at home.

Known as Ask ALFY (Advice Line for You) – it is operated by district and night nursing staff who can offer re-assurance and advice to callers as well as a number of alternative options, including making appointments for nurses to visit people in their own homes, arranging urgent access to certain equipment and booking appointments to attend a rapid access clinic at FVRH where they can receive a specialist review. Callers can also be signposted to emergency social services, local health and social care services and voluntary organisations, if required.

The pilot project has been set up after figures revealed that over the past 18 months, 48 out of 51 people in a specific target group (older people aged over 85 with dementia and/or complex health and care needs) had attended the Emergency Department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital a total of 188 times. Of these, 29 of the group were admitted to hospital a total of 76 times and 41 of the 51 had attended 283 outpatient appointments between them. A review of these attendances showed a number of them could have been dealt with at home with appropriate support. This new pilot service aims to help provide advice when it is needed to help people stay in their own homes, wherever possible.

NHS Forth Valley Programme Lead Jann Gardner said: “We know that in addition to frailty and dementia, older people are more likely to be living with multiple chronic conditions. We also know that the proportion of older people in our population is increasing, most significantly in the over 75 age range. We are working hard to make sure that people can stay in their own home for as long as possible, surrounded by family and friends and this helpline will go a long way towards providing support and reassurance.”

The pilot is also encouraging people to develop a personal care plan known as Your Plan with their family or carer.

Your Plan allows people to document all the important things that matter to them in relation to their health and care needs in the one place. People are encouraged to share Your Plan with those closest to them including health and care professionals so that everyone knows what to do if a problem arises and what support could be given to help people maintain a ‘good life’.

The dedicated helpline (01324 567247) can be accessed by both patients and carers and aims specifically to help them navigate the health and social care system to avoid, wherever possible, having to attend the Emergency Department or be admitted to hospital.

The project team are now working to identify a second group of patients who could benefit from the new service.