New Service To Keep Elderly At Home Rather Than Bringing Them To ED Launches

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A SERVICE which aims to safely keep older people who phone 999/112 in their home rather than bringing them to a hospital emergency department is now responding to calls in Clare and north Tipperary.

A partnership between the National Ambulance Service and the UL Hospitals Group, Pathfinder, launched in Limerick in October 2022 and has in recent weeks expanded its geographical area of operations across the Mid West.

The Pathfinder rapid response team responds to 999/112 calls that are less serious for older people (65 years and older). This may be someone who, for example, has experienced a fall at home or who is generally unwell.  The older person is assessed by both an advanced paramedic and occupational therapist or a physiotherapist. 

If suitable , the team supports the older person at home rather than transporting them to an Emergency Department, by linking with a wide range of alternative hospital and community services. If the patient does require assessment in the Emergency Department, they will be brought directly to their nearest Emergency Department(ED).

Pathfinder also operates a follow-up team (physiotherapy and occupational therapy) which provides immediate home-based rehabilitation, equipment provision and case management in the subsequent days following the 999/112 call.

Over the last six months (April-September) in the Mid West, 188 patients were assessed by the regional Pathfinder team, of whom 47% were supported at home without the need to go to the ED.