Extra-care from British Red Cross

Amy Archer on Anne Ward

Amy Archer plays a very unique role on Anne Ward at St Thomas’ Hospital. Amy is the Discharge Facilitator in the Integrated Hospital Discharge Team currently being tested on the ward.

“I see myself as the extra care that people need to get back on their feet – like the cherry on top – from viewing care homes with people to buying clothes for them.” said Amy.

Amy has been seconded to Guy’s and St Thomas’ by the British Red Cross for six months, because the Integrated Hospital Discharge Team was keen to involve the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) in the ward-based test.

Amy explained: “Because I’m not seen as being part of the clinical team on the ward, patients and their families are often more open with me, which helps us [the team] gain more of an understanding about the person, so we can provide more person-centred care.

“It took a little while for the team to understand my role, but now I feel valued and don’t feel like we’re stepping on each other’s toes.”

The Integrated Hospital Discharge Team is being tested at both St Thomas’ and King’s College hospitals, to help improve people’s experience of transfers back into the community, give them a point of contact and save bed days by reducing delays. The teams are trying out more efficient hospital discharge processes and trying to improve relationships between health and social care professionals and with patients.

Amy said: “I’m also doing things that weren’t originally part of the plan, for example, supporting carers and family members that feel a bit disconnected, acting as a point of contact for them.”

As well as building a link between the ward and VCS, Amy also provides administrative support to the team.

Amy: “It’s fantastic when I know I can help completely change someone’s life, but there is no one-fits-all model.

“The other week, a lady came onto the ward who had recently been diagnosed with cancer, had no friends and family in London and it was her first time in hospital.

“I had a chat with her to find out if she wanted any support after she left hospital during this difficult time. I explained all of the help we could provide, but the thing she wanted the most was just someone to talk to. It’s easy to take interaction for granted, but isolation is terrible.”

Amy always likes to set three goals with each patient, from doing the washing again to socialising in the local community. This lady wanted: to talk through her condition with someone, support with transport and find a bowls club to join.

Amy offered to go home with the lady on the day of discharge, help with the first food shopping and settle her in at home. The British Red Cross also have a buddy service, so one of Amy’s colleagues would visit the lady for eight weeks after she was discharged and talk to her about her condition.

“We’re not medically trained, but the lady just wanted the time to chat to someone about it as a ‘normal’ person.

“I also found that she was eligible for meals-on-wheels from the council, a taxi card to help with transport, and got her a walking stick. I’m still working on finding the bowls club.” said Amy.

Amy concluded: “When it goes right and you know you’ve really made a difference to someone’s life, it feels brilliant.”