Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Swindon Borough Council have come together in a bid to prevent the health of local people from deteriorating, in a new campaign called ‘Stay well Swindon’.
It is expected that this winter will be the busiest on record yet, and with Great Western Hospitals regularly operating at maximum capacity, the two organisations are highlighting the community support that is available right across Swindon; so that people can access help earlier on and prevent a hospital stay.
In the last 12 months, over 125,000 people have attended the Emergency Department or Urgent Treatment Centre at Great Western Hospital, with around 98,000 of them admitted to a ward for further care.
Environmental and social issues are also having an impact on health, with more people being affected by loneliness, homelessness and cost-of-living.
Mental health attendances are also increasing year on year at Great Western Hospital, with around 2,500 patients presenting at hospital with mental health in the last year.
To offer support on these social care issues, a number of initiatives have been set up by both organisations which seek to get people help earlier, so they don’t deteriorate and need a stay in hospital.
38 Welcome Spaces across the town provide local residents with a confidential and safe space to spend time, meet other people and find warmth during cold weather. The facilities at each venue will vary – some may offer cold or hot drinks, cost of living advice or free internet access. A full list of spaces can be found at www.swindon.gov.uk/welcomespaces.
The Council is also hosting a cost of living event on Monday 16 October at the Central Library from 10.30am until 4pm which residents can come along to speak to organisations such as Warm and Safe Wiltshire and the Centre for Sustainable Energy to seek advice on energy, financial or other social care concerns.
Staff at Great Western Hospitals are also focusing their efforts on treating patients outside of a hospital setting, with NHS@Home – the Trust’s own virtual ward - providing hospital-standard care, monitoring and treatment in the patient’s own home.
Discharge pathways including Home First are also seeking to reduce a patient’s length of stay and look at ways recovery can continue at home with community and social care support.
Dr Jon Westbrook, Chief Medical Officer at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know that the colder months bring additional risks to people and this adds to pressures on the health services. This winter could be the most demanding yet, so we want to support people to stay well.
“There are several things that residents can do to protect themselves. This includes getting the COVID and flu vaccinations if these are offered and stocking up your medicine cabinet ready for winter, and if you become unwell, seeking health advice as soon as possible from NHS 111, your GP or local pharmacist.”
Councillor Jim Grant, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Joint Working, said: “This joined-up care tackles not only the individual’s immediate health condition, but other factors that might be impacting on their wellbeing. By addressing these issues earlier, we hope to get people the right care, in the right place, at the right time.
“We know that many patients go to hospital because their health has worsened due to things at home, such as not being able to afford heating, so it’s hoped that this year we can reach more people before it gets to that stage.
“There is also lots that families, friends and carers can do to support – and sometimes even something as simple as popping in on a neighbour more regularly can highlight any problems to us even earlier.
It’s also important to stay warm when the temperature drops - if you’re worried about energy costs, visit www.swindon.gov.uk/costofliving to find out about the financial support available.”
For more information about general wellness support, please watch a short video from Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health for Swindon Borough Council: