SW AHSN connects primary care teams to shape future for ageing population

Primary care workers were brought together by the South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN) this month to structure care for elderly residents across the local population.

The South West Primary Care Network Design Day, held at Exeter Racecourse in Devon on 30 October, invited care home staff, GPs, pharmacists, and clinical directors working across the region to co-design the future for care home residents in the South West in line with NHS England’s Long Term Plan.
In early 2019, NHS England published a five-year framework for GP services that included the introduction of a Directed Enhanced Service (DES). The DES, also known as the ‘Primary Care Network Contract’, is designed to support GP practices to form primary care networks – groups of practices working together with local providers to coordinate and personalise care in their localities.
Our design day focused on the contract’s requirements for enhanced care in care homes, to support all care homes with a consistent multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals, delivering proactive and reactive care. The event addressed the necessities to meet these requirements as well as the challenges facing staff working on the ground.
“Care home staff are busy firefighting and need support to understand the longer-term plan for care delivery”, said George Coxon, local care home owner and a consultant in the SW AHSN’s Associate Network (pictured below, right). “This event is one of very few connecting care home staff to other local primary care colleagues – connections that are essential in promoting care partnerships”.

Delegates from a range of clinical and management backgrounds worked in groups of 10 to address common scenarios about care in care homes by sharing ideas and learning from what has and hasn’t worked elsewhere. Teams pulled on a plethora of good practice to develop model implementation plans which team members have taken back to their respective primary care networks to help them to implement the contract’s care home requirements.
Addressing the room, host Dr Matthew Dolman, a GP and SW AHSN’s primary care lead, emphasised the importance of enhancing health in care homes. “We need to remember that these people were once young and excited, just like us. We are doing it for them, and for our own futures.”
The SW AHSN is working in partnership with Devon Care Kite Mark, a peer-led network supporting people working in residential care and nursing homes, to share best practice and innovation across the South West. This growing collaboration, steered by George Coxon, is reviewing care homes in the region rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission to identify positive elements that can be spread to homes that may require more support.
Our work on care homes is part of an evolving initiative by the SW AHSN to understand the challenges individuals and primary care teams face as well as their aspirations for change and improvement.
“A challenge for primary care networks is knowing what ‘good’ looks like, but tackling the day-to-day practicalities of primary care gets in the way of that happening”, says Dr Dolman. “Our aim is to create the ‘headspace’ primary care teams need to make change happen.”
One space developed by the SW AHSN is Models of Care, an online community for primary care teams to collaborate and gain easy access to examples of innovation in action (pictured below, right). A new and improved Models of Care was launched at the event. Discover it here.
For more information on the SW AHSN’s primary care work please visit our webpage.

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