Crisis calls rise

Saturday September 8th 2018

Written by Marie Sharp, Local Democracy Reporter

A rapid response team set up to help people in their homes during a crisis has seen an increase in the number of calls for help during the night by 138 per cent.

Midlothian Emergency Rapid Response Intervention Team (MERRIT) is also dealing with 125 calls every month.

Allister Short, director of health and social care at Midlothian Council, highlighted the increased workload of MERRIT as an example of how care at home services continue to be challenged in a report to the local authority on how its adult social care services are performing.

And he warned that the pressure of delivering integrated health and social care services in the county was putting its potential for success at risk.

Referring to the MERRIT overnight calls, he said: “The majority of those were driven by services we need to put in place during the day to reduce the pressures.”

Mr Short said that ongoing pressure in delivering new integrated services meant some services had to “double run” for a period before they could switch over.

He said: “The pressure on the service at the moment has the potential for us to, overall, lose faith almost in what we are trying to do in integration.

“It remains a key risk to us really maximising the potential that integration will bring in shifting the balance of care in moving people out of acute services and our broader institutions and into homes or more homely environments.”

Midlothian Council currently has 1,144 older people who receive care at home. In a performance report on adult social services for the first quarter of the year, it revealed 104 people are waiting for a package of care to be introduced or updated.

The report said that as well as the increase on calls to MERRIT the service had seen the introduction of the e-frailty work, which identifies vulnerable people and the Red Cross taking on referrals from GPs for those who have moderate frailty and identifying what other supports can be in place to prevent hospital admissions and promote self-management and wellbeing.

It added that dementia services also have a continual increase on referrals and real challenges in identifying care home placement for people living with dementia in the county.

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