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Southampton City Council and NHS partnership cuts patient waiting times by a year

A partnership between Southampton City Council and Solent NHS Trust has seen a reduction in assessment and rehabilitation waiting times for those with a visual or hearing impairment as a result of the collaboration.

The integrated council and NHS rehab and reablement ‘Community Independence Service’, formed in April 2016 as part of the Better Care Southampton initiative. Before the partnership The Sensory Team saw long waiting lists with an average of a nine month to a year wait for assessment and rehabilitation, which has now reduced to two weeks for first contact.

The joint team provide rehab and reablement city-wide to adults over 18 who have vision, hearing or dual sensory loss that is significantly affecting their ability to live independently. The team contains specialist health and social care staff who support people in their own homes and care settings to increase awareness of the impact of sensory loss, and ensure that timely support and any rehabilitation they need is received at an early stage so that they can be given the skills to maintain and regain independence.

As part of the integration the team developed a number of strategies to improve services and reduce waiting times including initial telephone consultations to establish needs, providing specialist ‘Sensory Lead’ training to individuals in the team that action basic level sensory issues at the point of assessment, the development of a clinic based at Southampton Sight in Bassett for advice and support, and reaching out to develop sensory awareness in other services such as diabetes, neurological rehabilitation and learning disabilities.

Who have the team helped as part of the partnership? Sensory Services recently supported Kristian Gibson, 45, from Bargate, who was diagnosed at birth with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare genetic disorder that involves a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina. As he got older and his vision deteriorated he found that he had to rely on other people more for support and became anxious about leaving the house, not leaving his house alone for 10 years. The Sensory Services team supported him through a tailored mobility and orientation rehabilitation programme that included training on using a long stick when out in public. He now looks forward to leaving the house and will be embarking on voluntary work with Southampton Sight.

Kristian said “I was given personalised support from the team, who were so patient with me. At first going outside alone was very daunting but now after several months of training my confidence has grown and it has given me a sense of my own independence again. Now I look forward to going out and having time to feel like myself again!”

Councillor Lorna Fielker Cabinet member for Adult Care at Southampton City Council, said: “This is a great example of how partnership working with the NHS is helping people in the city, like Kristian, to regain confidence and independence quicker than ever before.”

Julia Watts, Community Independence Service (including Sensory Services) Team Manager, said “The mobility and orientation programmes we deliver with people who are experiencing visual loss enable them to regain confidence. This includes those who have not gone out for years now being confident to do so, and we’ve had feedback from service users to say ‘you have given me my life back’. Sensory Services are proof of the NHS and the Social Care Better Care partnership working well and making a difference to the people of Southampton.”

Jo Pinhorne, Operations Director for Adult Services Southampton, said “We are incredibly proud to be part of an integrated team which makes such a huge difference to the lives of those with sight and/or hearing loss. The work the team does to enable people to regain or maintain independent living skills is life changing. The introduction of initial telephone consultations has dramatically reduced the time patients need to wait to speak to the team. The compassion and empathy shown by the team is admirable.”

For new referrals contact the Adult Social Care Line on 023 8083 3003.

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