Nearly all GP practices in Gloucestershire have signed up to providing an enhanced service for care homes.

This means that residents and staff in care homes across the county will benefit from regular, planned GP visits, at least fortnightly. .

Care home staff will flag any health concerns or issues that a resident may have, and together with the care home lead nurse or person in charge, the GP will review the resident and their care plan. The GP will also assess every new resident who is admitted to the care home and will carry out six-monthly reviews to ensure the patient’s care plan and medication is continuing to meet their needs.

Dr Hein le Roux, GP and Clinical lead for Older People at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“This is a great opportunity for GPs to become active partners in helping to improve clinical care in residential and nursing homes.

It will enable us to develop strong and positive relationships with homes, and by getting to know the staff, residents and their families, we’ll be able to pick up on any changes or deterioration in a resident’s condition promptly. This should help patients avoid reaching a crisis, and potentially avoid unplanned admissions to hospital, which can be distressing for both residents and staff.

If a resident is admitted to hospital unexpectedly, we will look into the reasons for this, and share any lessons we learn with colleagues.”

Dr Andy Seymour, GP and Deputy Clinical Chair at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“We anticipate that this service will benefit residents and staff. This is about providing more proactive and planned support to care homes. By working more closely with care home staff, GPs can answer questions, share knowledge and provide information about useful tools and training opportunities. We can also help ensure that a resident’s wishes for end of life are adhered to.”

NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group is working closely with Gloucestershire Care Providers Association and Gloucestershire County Council to implement the service. Evaluation will start after six months, and will include analysis of feedback from residents, staff and GPs.

Anouska Currie, Nursing and Residential Representative at Gloucestershire Care Home Providers Association, said:

“Gloucestershire Care Providers Association has received a positive response from care homes across Gloucestershire to the enhanced GP service. We are hopeful that it will help build positive working relationships between GPs and care homes and improve the continuity of care, which will benefit the service users’ well-being and enable care homes to work more efficiently. We look forward to seeing how the next phase of the project progresses.”

Councillor Andrew Gravells, Cabinet Member for Older People, said:

“I am delighted to see this forward thinking initiative by GPs and NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group. We all recognise the important part that care homes play in the support of older people. This enhanced service will make a real difference to the care we can offer to some of the most frail and vulnerable older people in Gloucestershire.”