As a partnership of NHS Trusts across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, plus the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, PenCLAHRC work with healthcare professionals, policymakers and the public to identify areas of research that reflect the real needs and concerns of the health service in the South West.
To illustrate how this works in practice, we’ve highlighted some work carried out in collaboration with Livewell South West.
Livewell South West is a recognised provider of integrated health and social care services operating across Devon and parts of Cornwall and prides itself on being forward-thinking when it comes to providing care. Our Operational Team, PenCHORD, have collaborated with Livewell on projects to improve efficiency of care processes and pathways.
NICE guidelines recommend using a ‘stepped care model’ approach for the management of depression, anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Whilst steps vary according to a patient’s condition and history, the model aims to provide the most effective treatment, from the most appropriate team.
Using operational research, the PenCHORD team set out, working closely with partners such as Livewell Southwest, to create a pathway map of the current system. The map will allow its users to understand the offered pathways in detail, enabling consensual future service planning and a conceptual model to minimise waiting list times.
Community teams in Plymouth have more than 500,000 patient contacts per year and for many medical staff, travelling between patients to deliver care can take up a large proportion of time. PenCHORD explored the impact of the allocation of patients to teams on travel distances and times by looking at two options;
(1) The allocation of patients to teams by home address of patient
(2) The allocation of patients to teams by GP address of patients
Using Operational Research, the team found that allocating patients to teams based on GP affiliation, rather than patient postcode, added approximately 30% to travel distances over a year. This is equivalent to more than 100,000 miles per year (or £45,000 per year based on 45p/mile) across the three teams.
This research was conducted by PenCHORD, PenCLAHRC’s Operational Research team. working directly with NHS Devon, Plymouth and Torbay and Livewell (then known as Plymouth Community Healthcare).
Steve Hunt, Deputy Locality Manager for Livewell Southwest, was involved in the mental health mapping project. He said: “The work PenCHORD did was detailed, informative and helped us to identify blockages and improve patient flow. It was a useful exercise for us, and pleasure to work with their team.”