The Acute Parkinson’s team, based within Derriford Hospital, were victorious in winning an award at the national UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network awards, held in Manchester last month.
Parkinson’s, a neurological condition for which there is currently no cure, affects 145,000 people across the UK. At least two people are diagnosed with the disease every hour.
For people with Parkinson’s, being an inpatient in hospital can be particularly challenging and unnerving, especially when it comes to the administration of medication. If medication isn’t provided on time, their ability to manage their symptoms may be reduced, affecting important functions such as movement and swallowing.
In 2016, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust established a specialist Parkinson’s nurse-led service, which is led by Dr Camille Carroll, Honorary Consultant Neurologist at the Trust and Associate Professor at the University of Plymouth. The service now incorporates complex and advanced therapy clinics, as well as planned ‘one-off’ clinics, to help patients with Parkinson’s to self-manage their condition better, reducing unnecessary hospital admissions and the length of potential stays.
Emma Pearson, Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist in the team, pictured with colleague Fiona Murphy, explained: “We now combine the use of the RAPA (repeat admission patient alerts) system with our patient management system. The system immediately alerts the Parkinson’s nurse service that a Parkinson’s patient has been admitted to the hospital, and enables us to speedily visit the person on the ward soon after admission, assess needs and provide medication advice, as well as ensuring that medication is received on time.
“As a service we continue to attend community Parkinson’s groups, to ensure that all Parkinson’s patients are aware of our service prior to coming to hospital, and liaise closely with other professional community services to ensure continuity of care.”
In particular, the most recent patient satisfaction survey reflects the team’s efforts to improve discharge planning for Parkinson’s patients, with the proportion of patients being seen by the specialist teams soon after discharge from hospital increasing from 37% to 87%.
“We strive to keep the service patient-centred,” adds Emma. “We therefore involve patients in all service improvement and transformation projects, with patient representation on the strategy group, and seek their input on new guidelines and pathways.
“The success of the service is also down to the wider team approach and support we receive from the Neurology department – without which we simply couldn’t do our job.”
The team were nominated for the award by Val Evans, whose husband had been a recent patient. She said: “When my husband was admitted, he was in a very distressed, frightened state. The Parkinson’s nursing team quickly came to see us and we were very reassured by their calm approach. Together we agreed an excellent care plan and it continued to work well throughout his seven-week stay in hospital, thanks to the regular follow-ups by the nursing team and their calm and patient manner.”
The award judges, which included a panel of Parkinson’s health and service professionals, as well as patients, praised the Plymouth service for its overwhelming dedication to improve the experience of people with Parkinson’s whilst in hospital, and reaching out to the community pre and post admission.
Clinical Director of the Excellent Network, Dr Donald Grosset, said: “This year the quality of entries was exceptional, and I would like to congratulate the Acute Parkinson’s team based within University Hospitals Plymouth on its well-deserved success, outstanding client feedback and for being at the forefront of exceptional Parkinson’s care.”