AN ENGAGEMENT process on Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s proposals for improving the care for frail older people in the Vale, has begun.

The Board said it aimed to ensure patients are receiving the most appropriate care for their needs.

The new proposals take into account an ageing population which is expected to increase further in the future.

This level of population growth and an increase in levels of frailty means the health board needs to adapt the way services are delivered.

The health board is inviting views on the proposals which can be accessed on the website.

There will also be a public workshop in Barry on September 23 to discuss the options further with clinicians.

The proposals adopt the principles of quicker assessment, quicker discharge and ongoing care needs in the community which will reduce the need for a hospital stay.

Part of the proposal will consider the option of reducing the number of beds in Barry Hospital through the closure of Sam Davies Ward.

Patients will receive care at either University Hospital Llandough or closer to home, with appropriate levels of clinical resource.

The Board said patients tell it they want to return home quickly to recover after a hospital admission or not be admitted to hospital at all.

Long stays in hospital can reduce an individual’s independence and confidence as they lose mobility and their strength and balance and this can contribute to clinical de-conditioning.

The Board said plenty of published evidence told them that patients, especially the elderly and frail, will clinically de-condition while they are in an acute hospital bed with reduced mobility.

The Health Board routinely sees patients developing reduced muscle strength and mobility when in hospital and even short periods of hospitalisation in the elderly can lead to marked de-conditioning and muscle wastage.

This engagement focuses on the Health Board’s proposals for improving care for frail older people in the Vale when they come into hospital.

When patients no longer need to be in hospital, they should be able to leave with appropriate support in place more quickly, to give them the best chance of continued independence and dignity in their own home or a community setting.

Clinical director of clinical gerontology at Cardiff and Vale UHB, Joseph Grey said: “By improving our health care services to enable patients to recover and return home more quickly, we will improve the health and wellbeing of the patient population, increase their confidence and help them maintain their independence, while enabling clinical staff to provide appropriate care as needed.

“The new proposals will help improve independence and mobility.

"They will also offer better opportunities for patients to recover more quickly and to return home in a more timely fashion with appropriate support in the community.

“We are inviting people to give us their thoughts and comments on these proposals which will help us to shape our services for frail older people in the Vale of Glamorgan.”

The eight-week engagement on the care of frail older people in the Vale will end on November 1.

The Health Board will also hold a public workshop in the Barry Memo Arts Centre, Gladstone Road, Barry, from 1pm to 3.30pm, on Monday, September 23.

As part of the Health Board’s strategy Shaping Our Future Wellbeing, there has been significant investment in primary and community services to increase the support available to keep people living well at home and within the local community.

The strategy also looks at the development of health and wellbeing centres for each of the three localities, with Barry Hospital being developed into the health and wellbeing centre for the Vale.

The new health and wellbeing centre would provide a wide range of diagnostic and local health services including secondary care outreach services which would be supported by a network of Wellbeing Hubs to provide healthcare for the whole community.

There will be separate engagement on the proposals of the future of Barry Hospital, but the vision is to create a vibrant Health and Wellbeing Centre that meets the needs of Vale residents now and in the future.