A PILOT study in a North Wales hospital has nearly halved the length of time that some patients are staying.

Specialist teams of occupational therapists are helping patients at Glan Clwyd Hospital, in Bodelwyddan, to get back on their feet quicker than before.

The new ‘Home First’ project helps patients to return home from hospital as soon as they finish their inpatient medical treatment, after practicing simple confidence-boosting activities such as walking, washing, getting dressed and preparing food.

The scheme has helped almost 90 per cent of inpatients at the hospital to regain the confidence and strength to return home safely.

Following the successful trial period, enhanced occupational therapy support has been rolled out to all wards throughout Glan Clwyd in an attempt to help people get back home faster after a spell in hospital.

Occupational therapists will take responsibility for leading the discharge of patients by working closely with them, their families, and fellow healthcare and medical staff to ensure their needs are met.

It is hoped that reducing a patient’s length of stay in hospital will help them to retain their independence while also reducing the risk of deconditioning (losing fitness, confidence or mental wellbeing during their time in a hospital bed).

Occupational therapist Jennifer Davies, who ran the initial pilot, said: “Home First is all about recognising how our patients want to return back to their lives after a stay in hospital, and how we can help them achieve that.

“Through early assessments of patients, working with them to set goals which will achieve their discharge, and leading care meetings with hospital colleagues, we’ve seen real results in helping people recover once they are medically well enough to leave hospital.

“By addressing this issue, we’re freeing up resources and improving flow through the hospital.”

The five-week trial at one of the hospital’s ‘Care of the Elderly’ wards saw occupational therapists work with ward staff to support patients who were medically ready to return home, but still in need of therapy and nursing care.

Their work saw the average length of stay of participating patients drop from 7.7 days to four days, with 89 per cent of patients returning home with the correct level of support in place.

The ‘Home First’ scheme also reduced the number of patients who were transferred to community hospitals, while approximately 192 bed days were made available thanks to the improved discharge process.