Families and carers asked to help free up North Lanarkshire’s hospital beds

People in North Lanarkshire are being asked to help where possible if a loved one, friend or someone they care for has recently been discharged from hospital.

Health & Social Care North Lanarkshire (HSCNL) chief officer Ross McGuffie

Health & Social Care North Lanarkshire (HSCNL) is currently working to ensure patients whose discharge has been delayed are able to leave its hospitals as soon as they are medically fit to do so.

The objective is to minimise their potential exposure to Coronaviris (COVID-19) and create vital capacity.

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The call comes as COVID-19 is presenting Care at Home services in the area with increasingly significant capacity challenges.

Families and carers of those currently in receipt of home care are also being asked to help. Tasks may include dressing, cleaning and cooking.

Ross McGuffie, chief officer of HSCNL, said: “Our partnership with people in communities is as crucial as it’s ever been as unprecedented demand on our workforce becomes increasingly pronounced.

“To help us reduce this strain and focus on the most medically unwell, we are asking for the public’s help, for family, carers and friends of someone in need of care at home to help out where possible and safe to do so.”

Mr McGuffie also highlighted the current pressures on Care at Home services and underlined how members of the public can assist.

He said: “We are prioritising Care at Home services for the most vulnerable on their discharge from hospital and those with existing packages of care.

“We are therefore asking people to be mindful that you may now be contacted by our staff and asked to care for a family member or friend.

“If you are approached I would urge you to think about how you can help using a common sense approach.

“It is clear now that we face a challenge which we have not seen before in our lifetimes. Our overriding objective is about protecting and saving lives.

“We are hugely grateful for the support of communities, working together with us.”

A simple to follow checklist has been developed to ensure people can safely help loved ones:

DO make sure you’re well before lending assistance, especially to an older person.

DO self-isolate if you’re experiencing any symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19 and look after yourself.

DO consider others in your family or neighbourhood network who could offer help if you’re self-isolating.

DO phone a member of your care team immediately if you or a family member is in receipt of Care at Home Services and have symptoms. This will allow them to take steps protect the health of our workforce, and help reduce the potential spread of the virus to other service users.

If you or anyone in your household has a high temperature or a new and continuous cough – even if it’s mild everyone in your household must stay at home for 14 days and keep away from others.

Do not go to your GP, hospital or pharmacy. Go to www.nhsinform.scot to check your symptoms and follow the specialist medical advice.

Only call NHS 24 (111) if you can’t get online or your symptoms worsen.

Meanwhile, NHS Lanarkshire has taken the decision to suspend all visiting times at all hospitals and inpatient wards to limit the spread of coronavirus and protect vulnerable patients.

Visiting will, however, be available in very limited circumstances – for example patients receiving end-of-life care or those accompanying partners during childbirth, following discussion and agreement with the senior charge nurse/midwife responsible for the clinical area or their deputy.

Susan Friel, director of nursing for acute services, said: “We understand the stress this may cause in being unable to visit family members in hospital.

“We apologise for taking this decision, but patient care is our top priority. We would like to reassure our staff, patients and visitors that this continues to be our focus at all times.”

More information is available by visiting www.nhslanarkshire.scot.nhs.uk/novel-corona-virus-covid-19 and www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus.