CARE home workers are being offered extra support and advice to help them keep residents healthy and out of hospital this winter.

An Enhanced Care Home Team, funded by Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group, has been set up and will work initially with 18 homes across the borough.

The aim is to cut 999 calls and hospital admissions by increasing the confidence of care home staff to manage the health needs of residents and improve delivery of care.

The multi-disciplinary team, from the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, includes a district nurse, community health nurse, mental health nurse, dietitian, occupational therapist and speech and language therapist.

Team leader Edliz Kelly said: “This is part of our winter planning and is very much an integrated approach. Projects like this elsewhere have seen a big reduction in hospital admissions from care homes.

“We will be running training days for care homes and supporting their managers. It’s about empowering staff with their decision making.

“We have identified why residents are going into our emergency department and are looking at prevention of those issues in care homes. For instance a common reason is chest infections – this can be linked to poor oral health so the speech and language therapists will be looking at better ways to deliver mouth care.

“Similarly our occupational therapist will be working with activity co-ordinators to help them provide activities which improve health and wellbeing and prevent falls.”

Edliz and the team will be working with homes on the care of residents who are nearing the end of their lives, so more people can spend their final hours in a familiar place of choice surrounded by family, rather than as an emergency patient in hospital.

She added: “We really want to help give residents a better experience in their care homes by working together with, and supporting, the care home staff and residents."