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A dedicated team of community support workers has been set up to
provide short term care to frail and vulnerable people living in the most
remote parts of North Dorset.
Dorset HealthCare’s new Community Support Worker Service offers
care for patients in their own homes in a bid to prevent hospital admission, enable
early discharge from hospital, and support people nearing the end of their
As well as carrying out basic nursing care, staff offer help with
everything from personal hygiene, food preparation and dressing, to picking up
medication and washing clothes. The service operates seven days a week, between
8am and 8pm.
Trust Health and Social Care Coordinator Tessa Bendell helped establish
the new service. She said: “We officially launched in December, and it is already
having a positive impact on the local population.
“One of the main catalysts behind the idea was giving people the
opportunity to die in their own homes with their loved ones, and by providing
this short term care, we can also ensure the wishes of patients are respected
during the final stages of their lives.”
The three teams, consisting of nine staff, work from hubs based at
Shaftesbury, Sherborne and Blandford hospitals. Each hub provides a unique
support network to the community worker which includes clinicians, physiotherapists,
community matrons and nurses, as well as a palliative care specialist.
This will give them access to any advice and support they need
with clinicians available round the clock, and enable them to feedback any
concerns they may have about a patient.
Austin Fletcher is one of the Community Support Workers
based in Shaftesbury. He said: “North Dorset has been crying out for this type
“Given the choice, I think we would all prefer to receive
health care at home rather than go into hospital, and giving people this
opportunity means so much to them.
“We can also provide support for families at the most
emotional and stressful times if their loved ones are unwell or entering the
last stages of their lives.”
Access to the Community Support Worker Service is via referral by
a health or social care professional, who will assess an individual’s needs to
ensure it is safe for them to stay at home with support.
Patients are then allocated their own key worker, who will design
a care plan tailored to that person’s needs.