Winter ward helps elderly patients back on their feet

21 November 2014

A temporary ward designed to speed up patients’ recovery and free up much-needed Royal Free Hospital beds has reopened for winter.

Building on last year’s success, ward 6 East will give up to 25 patients the chance to socialise and start looking after themselves in preparation for discharge to their home or a community-based rehabilitation centre.

The ward’s reablement therapy service was launched last year in an effort to relieve pressure on beds used for acute care and help meet A&E targets during the busy winter season by taking patients out of acute wards at the right stage of their recovery.

Since the ward opened last week therapists have been working alongside nurses to encourage patients to do more for themselves including going to the bathroom, dining and socialising in the communal area. They have also been given the chance to take part in various activities such as weekly music sessions and exercise classes.

“This ward has created an opportunity to think about doing things differently,” said Trudie France, clinical manager for therapy services. “Elderly patients’ ability to carry out the basic daily living activities often deteriorates rapidly when they remain inactive in hospital for too long. On 6 East, therapists work alongside nurses to encourage patients to do things for themselves rather than have things done for them. The therapy service continues at weekends, so patients retain or regain their ability to look after themselves in preparation for discharge.”

Anne Thom, 73, had been recovering from a fall for three weeks before she was moved from her acute ward to 6 East last week.

She said: “Here I have to get up and do something. You can go to the bathroom yourself here whereas you couldn’t on the other ward. It really helps. I feel like I am recovering quickly."

Joan Hunter, 88, added: “I think I am getting better quicker because I am being asked to do more things. I feel like they trust me.

“I just feel better if I am doing something. I don’t like to sit back and watch other people do things.”

An assessment of last year’s ward activity suggested that 6 East helped reduce the number of operations cancelled due to lack of beds and waiting times for beds following patients’ arrival at A&E. Of those admitted to the reablement ward, 37% of those waiting for a rehabilitation place no longer needed it and went straight home.


Notes to editors

Images available on request.

Media contacts: Daniel O’Brien, email or call 020 7317 7740.

About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare. 

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, haemophilia, renal, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London.