Sanni Aujla has been appointed as Project Manager to OPAL+ to strengthen and expand the service. The new post has been funded by NHS Charities Together as part of their COVID-19 grant making and is administered by the University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) Charity.
OPAL+ is a collaboration between the geriatrician led Older People’s Assessment and Liaison (OPAL) team at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QE) and the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS).
The service first launched in March 2020. Since then, crews who are unsure whether a person needs to be taken to the Emergency Department have been using OPAL+ telephone and video technology to connect them and their patients to the OPAL teams based at the QE. In total OPAL and OPAL+ has helped to prevent 16,000 unnecessary hospital admissions of older people living in Birmingham and Solihull during the last 18 months.
Sanni joins from the Birmingham Community Healthcare Foundation Trust (BCHC) where she was Clinical Operations Manager for the Learning Disabilities Division.
Commenting on her appointment she said: “I am very much into innovation and problem solving and this role ticked these boxes for me – and more. OPAL+ continues to help avoid unnecessary hospital admissions, enabling us to keep people in their own homes where they will recover more quickly. This outcome shows how important and effective good partnership working is and I look forward to working with WMAS to help strengthen the service to deliver the very best care we can to those in need.”
The UHB Charity agreed to fund the post following a recent invitation to visit the OPAL+ team at the Queen Elizabeth Birmingham Hospital (QE) and shadow them to find out more about the work they do.
“We’re delighted to support the continued rollout of OPAL+” said Mike Hammond, UHB Charity Chief Executive, “This programme should allow many more people to stay in their own homes without the need to attend the Emergency Department at their local hospital, allowing paramedics to liaise with clinicians and social workers whilst they are with patients, giving a much quicker response for follow up care and support.”
As part of Sanni’s new role, she will work closely with the Early Intervention Community Team (EICT) to develop its new collaboration with WMAS. A recent scoping exercise between the two organisations showed that EICT could effectively support WMAS teams to respond to Category 1 and Category 2 calls more quickly by visiting and providing clinical and emotional support to Category 3 and 4 triaged patients and their families.
Sanni will also help strengthen the relationship with the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust which has recently reported success in helping patients to avoid hospital admission following a trial involving OPAL+ and the BSMHFT. It plans to roll out the approach wider in the new year.
OPAL/OPAL+ is one of five components within the Early Intervention programme that interlink with each other to help prevent hospital admission, avoid premature admission to long term residential care, avoid delays in hospital and ensure that people recover more quickly, ideally in their own surroundings.