Reducing ambulance call outs

A responder service, which helps clients who have a fall or are in need of emotional or physical support, is having an impact on the number of ambulance call outs.

The council operates Careline; a push button alarm system for vulnerable and elderly people, but the responder service is an additional help for clients who have no other way of accessing support, except through emergency services.

The 24/7 service aims to provide fast and effective support and care to clients who have triggered their alarm for assistance using their Careline assistive technology alarm system.

In 2017/18 there were 702 responder service attendances to such alarms, dealing with 393 confirmed Careline client falls. Of these, only 15 required an emergency ambulance service attendance, therefore saving 687 ambulance call outs.

Eileen Bulman, CCTV and Careline coordinator, said: “The responder service provides additional peace of mind to family members; helps reduce the number of avoidable hospital admissions and reduces the pressure on emergency services.

“The responders are required to attend within 40 minutes to any part of the borough and always achieve this. Whilst in the person’s home, after initially assisting the client to make them safe, they will assess what the problem is and decide if they need to call an emergency ambulance or help to make an appointment with the client’s GP.”

A client who was recently helped by the responder service has nothing but praise for the experience. Patricia Hamilton, 72, from Cippenham, has been a Careline user for a number of years.

Mrs Hamilton, who wears a wristband activator which can alert Careline using her phone line, said: “I have got MS (multiple sclerosis) and once I fall over I can’t get up without help. Over the years I have had them out a few times. It used to be the paramedics who came out and all they had to do was just get me up.

“It is a very good service, they are really nice. It is a great reassurance and my daughter feels happier as well. I never take the wristband off; I have even been known to take it on holiday!”

Situations where a responder will be sent out include the following: 

  • general concern for client welfare – bed/chair sensor alert, manual trigger by a pendant or automatic trigger by a fall detector
  • signposting to other agencies and organisations. For example, falls clinic or GPs
  • a service user is feeling unwell, but does not want a GP/paramedic to call
  • a service user has fallen and says they are uninjured
  • welfare check when no one can get in touch with the client after the alarm has been pressed.

Andy Battye, Head of Operations for East Berkshire & South Buckinghamshire at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), said: “With the elderly population increasing, approximately 30% of our emergency ambulance workload now relates to patients who have fallen. The majority of these patients are not then taken to hospital but can be assessed and treated, if needed, at the scene by our staff.

“The responder service provided by Careline is very welcome in reducing this demand, where the patient is not injured and therefore does not require medical support but rather help to get up. This allows more of our staff and vehicles to be prioritised to those patients with serious or life-threatening injuries.

“Since 1 November 2017, SCAS has responded in the Slough Borough Council area on average within 6 minutes and 13 seconds (against a national target of 7 minutes) to category one patients; those suffering a life-threatening emergency.”

To be able to benefit from the responder service you need to have a Careline telecare alarm system. 

Telecare is a means-tested service available to local residents who are known to adult social care. To find out more, call adult social care on 01753 475111 option one, or visit the council's website.


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