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Research Evaluation Praises Walsgrave Hospital's Emergency Assessment Unit

Originally Published 29 January 2002

Research Evaluation Praises Scheme Which Attaches Social Workers to Walsgrave Hospital's Emergency Assessment Unit

Research by the University of Warwick praises a scheme which attaches social workers to the Emergency Assessment Unit at Coventry's Walsgrave hospital. Eileen Mcleod and Dr Matthew Cooke, from the University of Warwick's School of Health & Social Studies, looked at the experience of older patients over two months of a six month NHS funded social worker attachment pilot scheme in the Emergency Assessment Unit (EAU) at the hospital. The scheme aimed to reduce inappropriate admission on social grounds of patients from the EAU, and to give medical staff, faced with a social support issue, immediate on the spot access to professional social work advice to assist patients after their medical needs had been met. The researchers concentrated on older patients as they made up 86% of the 210 patients referred to the social worker over the 6 month pilot project. The researchers, in their 2 month study, looked at 65 older patients referred to the social worker. The average age of these patients was 79. They found that a staggering 45% of them (a total 29 people) were assessed as needing social work support ? that is 29 people who could otherwise have missed out on the social work support they required. The researchers also found that having a social worker available in these circumstances greatly assisted patients to cope with the emotional demands of being in casualty and freed up medical staff time. The social worker also provided another crucial opportunity to look again at, and enhance, social service support already being given to patients. The researchers found that 68% of the older patients referred to the social worker by EAU staff were actually already known to area social work teams, but currently did not have active involvement. The EAU social worker was then able to liaise with the area teams to restart or augment care packages for these patients. In recognition of the success of this pilot programme the Hospital and Coventry's social service team have turned the pilot programme into a regular service staffed by two Social workers. They have also extended the scheme to include another part of the hospital ? the Medical Decisions Unit. Currently only 30% of UK hospitals operate such an arrangement. The University of Warwick research team strongly recommend that all hospitals should adopt such a scheme.

Note for Editors: The full research team included Eileen McLeod, and Dr Matthew Cooke, from the University of Warwick's School of Health & Social Studies, and Professor Paul Bywaters from Coventry University.

For further information contact:

Eileen McLeod, School of Health & Social Studies
University of Warwick, Tel: 024 7657 3814

Peter Dunn, Press Officer, University of Warwick
Tel: 024 76 523708 Fax: 024 76 528194

Deborah Martin Williams
Coventry City Council PR
For social work team
Tel: 024 76 831085

John Richardson, Head of Communications
Walsgrave Hospital, University Hospitals
Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
Tel: 024 76 535288