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Older People To Be Treated In the Community In Sutherland

30th March 2009

NHS Highland is continuing to develop the range of services it provides in Sutherland so that more people can be treated and cared for in their own homes.

The Cambusavie Unit, at the Lawson Memorial Hospital, in Golspie, was purpose built as a 30 bed long-term facility in 1989, when patients were transferred from the old Cambusavie Hospital.

Since then, it has developed into a rehabilitation centre for older people from across Sutherland and there are now no long-term patients. The number of beds was reduced to 22 a few years ago for health and safety and staffing reasons.

The unit, which is consultant-led from Caithness General Hospital, now provides stroke and other forms of rehabilitation.

As patients' needs have changed, bed occupancy at the Cambusavie Unit has declined and, on average, only thirteen of the twenty two beds are used so eight will be removed.

Medical, nursing and allied health professional staff have planned how they can continue to develop their community service, which started with the appointment of a physiotherapist three years ago.

The new service will mean that, instead of having empty beds in the unit, staff from the unit will be able to provide rehabilitation for patients at home, in residential units or wherever is most appropriate.

Locality general manager Georgia Haire said: "By developing a more flexible service, we will be able to support more people, so they can stay at home for longer and come home earlier from hospital.

"We are also hoping to improve the facilities within the unit itself so that it better meets the needs of rehabilitation patients, as opposed to the long-term patients for which it was designed. Our aim is to have better therapy space, day space and bedroom areas."

She explained that services already provided in the community were helping patients stay in hospital for shorter periods of time and in some cases meant they did not need to go into hospital at all.

"I see this as a natural development for the unit. It will mean we can provide rehabilitation and develop our services to support more people in the environment that is most appropriate to individual patients, whether that be hospital or home.

"At the same time, plans for the replacement of Migdale Hospital in Bonar Bridge are at the stage where the project team are preparing to go to tender prior to submission of a full business case to the Scottish Government," said Ms Haire.

The new hospital will have 22 beds providing a combination of GP-led and old age psychiatry beds.

Ms Haire said: "The NHS is committed to developing services for older people to better meet their needs both now and in the future.

"The combination of services available at Migdale Hospital, the Cambusavie Unit and in the Lawson Memorial Hospital will enable us to support people closer to home and enable them to retain their full dignity and independence."

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