Great Western Hospital is pioneering a new approach to caring for older patients.

The new process has been designed to cope with unplanned visits to hospital by the elderly, who often suffer multiple health conditions such as dementia, arthritis and respiratory problems.

Patients are assessed by a multidisciplinary team of nursing, therapy and social care staff and seen by a geriatrician.

Treatment is likely to begin sooner and more patients can leave hospital the same day. Those who need to stay, receive care on a specialist older person’s ward.

The new way of working has led to 80 per cent of older patients being seen by a geriatrician within 24 hours, compared with previous waiting times of up to three days. Half of patients that need further care are now moved directly to a specialist older person’s ward.

Stacey Cotter, trainee advanced clinical practitioner, said: “It’s about pulling together all the staff involved in a patient’s care, as well as their family or carer, earlier on, so that decisions can be made sooner and the risk of delays is reduced.

“By working in a more joined-up way and changing every day processes, we’ve been able to improve the care and overall experience of patients.”