Somerset’s family doctors are adding their voice to a national campaign aimed to ensure safe care and treatment is always at the heart of local health services and potential risks of harm or injury to patients are spotted before they take place.
However, more importantly they want patients, carers and their relatives to recognise when someone might be at risk of harm or injury whether in the home, care home or the community.
As a signatory to the national “Sign-up to Safety” campaign, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), is placing campaign information in GP surgeries and talking to patient and carer groups about the role they can play identifying risks to loved ones.
Karen Taylor, Head of Risk Management with Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group’s explained: “Every day hundreds of thousands patients benefit from our excellent NHS care and treatment, improving their lives and those of their families and friends. But sometimes things can go wrong with a devastating effect for all involved.
"Elderly and disabled people can be also prone to harm and injury in their own home; injuries like falling, failing to take their medicines correctly or even failing to drink enough water during the day are contributing to hundreds of preventable admissions to hospital and unnecessary demand upon family doctor services.
“With a bit more awareness we hope everyone will start to play a part in helping the most elderly and vulnerable stay well and prevent the common causes of injury and harm.”
Top of the list of Somerset CCG’s “Sign-up to Safety” campaign messages are those aimed to reduce the most common causes of painful and debilitating harm. Often experienced by the elderly and disabled patients they include:
Pressure ulcers - Pressure ulcers are caused by sitting or lying in one position too long. People who are in wheelchairs are particularly prone to such injury. Look out for red areas where bones are close to the skin. Try to keep moving and change position regularly when sitting and in bed.
Falling at home - Half of all patients admitted to hospital are there due to falling at home. You can reduce your risk of falling by taking regular exercise; checking eyes and hearing; looking after your feet; managing your medicines; checking for tripping hazards in the home, like frayed carpets and trailing wires.
(See the Age UK publications, ‘Staying Steady’. Available to download from the internet at: http://www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/EN-GB/Information-guides/AgeUKIG14_staying_steady_inf.pdf?dtrk=true )
Failing to ask questions about your treatment - If you don’t understand about your diagnosis or treatment ask your doctor or nurse.
Failing to take your prescription medicines as described by your doctor - Keep a record of all the medicines you are taking. Read information leaflets with your medicines for any special instructions, side effects and what to do if they occur. If you do not understand the information ask your pharmacist, doctor or nurse.
Look after your kidneys - Avoid infection or harm to your kidneys. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Watch out for signs of dehydration: confusion, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, sweats and shaking, and if you are not producing much urine, contact a doctor urgently.
Spotting the signs of sepsis - Sepsis is rare but symptoms can include slurred speech; extreme shivering or muscle pain; passing no urine (in a day); severe breathlessness; skin mottled or discoloured. If you think you or a loved one may be affected telephone NHS 111 or your family doctor as soon as possible.
Leaflet and further information
For a helpful guide to staying well and preventing painful and debilitating harm you can view or download a copy of Somerset CCG’s leaflet by clicking this link: How to make sure your healthcare is safe
There is also plenty of helpful information on these health issues and many more. Visit the NHS Choices web site for more information: www.nhs.uk
To find out more about the NHS Sign up To Safety campaign visit: www.england.nhs.uk/signuptosafety/
See also Somerset CCG's commitment to the national Sign up to Safety campaign: www.somersetccg.nhs.uk/about-us/how-we-do-things/sign-up-to-safety/