Older people to get dedicated area in A&E

Certain patients will be offered a space that is quieter and has dedicated staff to help meet their needs.
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People aged 80+ will be offered an ‘older person emergency department (ED)’ at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in a pilot project starting August 4.

Older people in this age group, as well as others who are frail, will be seen in a less busy, quieter space which has easier access to bathrooms. The project aims to reduce the number of times these patients have to be moved around the ED as they are being assessed to determine their best course of treatment. It’s hoped this will ease the confusion and disorientation older people can often experience during a visit to ED.

There will be a range of health professionals staffing the area including an occupational therapist and frailty practitioner, nurses, doctors and health support workers, all supported by an elderly care consultant or registrar.

Dr Zac Etheridge, consultant geriatrician and clinical lead for acute medicine at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: “ED can be an extremely busy and noisy area.  We know people in their 80s and older, and others who are living with frailty, may find this activity very disconcerting, causing confusion or worsening their health problems.

“We hope the separate area will also help ease pressure on the teams working elsewhere in ED. Attendances have picked up as we move out of the acute COVID stage and we’d urge everyone to remember the range of alternative options they can consider before they come to hospital.”

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