The University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) Charity was recently invited to shadow the OPAL and OPAL+ teams based at the Queen Elizabeth Birmingham Hospital (QE) to find out more about the work they do.
As a result of its visit, the Charity is set to fund a new project manager for OPAL+ for 18 months to help the service to strengthen its operation which, together with OPAL, has helped to avoid more than 10,000 unnecessary hospital admissions in the last 12 months.
The grant was funded by NHS Charities Together as part of their COVID-19 grant making and is administered by the UHB Charity.
OPAL+ was launched in March 2020. It is a collaborative partnership between the Older People’s Assessment and Liaison (OPAL) team at the QE and the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS). The service runs from 7.30am-8pm seven days a week and involves using telephone and video technology to allow the OPAL+ team to connect to patients in their homes. Often carers and family members who are with the patient contribute to the assessment too.
“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.”
Dr Abhishek Gupta, OPAL Consultant and OPAL+ Lead, said, “We ensure the right patient gets the right care at the right time. On average OPAL+ can receive between 60/70 calls a week and out of these calls 80% don’t need to be admitted to the hospital. 20% of the calls will be admitted to hospitals nearby, usually at Solihull or Good Hope Hospital. Calls are varied and unique. Every patient has their own unique problem which we will handle in the best way possible. We don’t want patients to come to a busy hospital especially with the pandemic if it can be avoided. There is no better place than home and we find this is the ideal place for our patients to get the help they need.”
“The success of the OPAL+ service has been as a direct result of the Early Intervention approach. Rather than admit somebody to hospital, we can call on other areas of EI to help support the patient such as the Early Intervention Community Team. This is where the value of EI lies – the ability of all five components to work together to deliver the best outcome for the patient.”
For more information on the UHB Charity visit www.hospitalcharity.org @UHBCharity
Older People’s Assessment & Liaison (OPAL) team
An enhanced and expanded geriatrician led older person’s clinical team at the front door of our hospitals, providing specialist care quickly, reducing hospital admissions, and ensuring we care for older people in the most ideal setting for their recovery.
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) has OPAL teams in all its Emergency Departments and Acute Medical Units at the QE, Heartlands Hospital and Good Hope. The teams see older people as soon as they arrive and liaise closely with community services to enable a ‘home-first’ approach. All OPAL + calls are answered by the QE team. If a patient does have to be taken to Heartlands and Good Hope, the QE lets the respective OPAL teams at these hospitals know the patient is on their way.