Great Yarmouth patients take part in telecare project

Heart failure patients in Great Yarmouth are taking part in a year-long trial designed to help them maintain their health and independence by using the latest technology.

Heart failure patients in Great Yarmouth are taking part in a year-long trial designed to help them maintain their health and independence by using the latest technology.

The eleven patients – six men and five women, aged between 59 and 92 – are using a telehealth monitor in their own homes to assess their health.

Each morning, they take part in simple tests to measure their so-called “vital signs”, such as blood pressure, weight, pulse, blood sugar, oximetry (amount of oxygen in their blood), lung function and ECG.

This information is accessed by a health care professional using the internet who can then intervene if he or she has any concerns.

The telecare trial is being led by Barry Pinkney, a heart failure specialist nurse employed by Great Yarmouth and Waveney Primary Care Trust (PCT).

“Patients with a confirmed diagnosis of heart failure were chosen to take part because they and people with COPD are the biggest users of acute hospitals,” he said.

“The idea is to pick up problems as soon as possible which means we can intervene swiftly and prevent people from being admitted to hospital as emergency patients, which is clearly of benefit to their health and quality of life while at the same time saving the Health Service valuable funds.

“There is considerable evidence which suggests such a service not only improves the quality of life and sense of well-being of individuals but promotes patient self-care through education which empowers patients too.

“The technology involved is very simple so even though the people taking part are mainly elderly they have been getting on very well and there have been few problems.”

All 11 patients, who include two who live in a residential home, are all patients at Hemsby Medical Centre or its branch surgeries at Martham, North Caister or Ormesby St Margaret.

They are monitored seven days a week by a variety of health care professionals – Mr Pinkney, an emergency care practitioner at Hemsby Medical Centre, a cardiac nurse at James Paget Hospital and the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust.

Although all 11 patients have a diagnosis of heart failure and have previously experienced at least one heart attack, some have other conditions, such as COPD and diabetes.

People taking part in the trial are also able to phone qualified nurses at Health Dialogue [checked], a patient coaching company in Cambridge, for advice 8am-8pm seven days a week.

Mr Pinkney said that an alert system was about to be implemented so that health care professionals would be automatically notified of potential problems.

The trial will be reviewed after six months and, as a consequence, an additional 10-11 people may join it.

Another telecare trial is being run simultaneously in West Norfolk. Both are being funded from central government funds via Norfolk County Council.

The project is a partnership between Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT, Norfolk PCT and the county council’s adult social services department. An interim and final report will be produced and presented to both PCTs and Norfolk County Council.

Telecare technology began about 25 years ago with basic pendant alarm services where people could press a button on a necklace to summon help.

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