In our latest blog we hear from Claire Smith, Head of Community Transport and Stakeholder Engagement at HCT Group, on the work HCT have been doing to fulfil the travel needs of older people who need to attend GP and hospital appointments.
HCT Group is a leading social enterprise whose aim it is to get people out and about. We do this through providing a range of transport services from London’s red buses, to community transport schemes, to education and training. The profits we make are reinvested in our community transport services. At the moment we operate across communities in 10 boroughs in London, Leeds, Wakefield, Bristol and the Channel Islands.
One important facet of our work is providing transport which takes people to and from healthcare settings. As part of this work in 2015 we began a new partnership with a local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), to act as a transport provider on their commissioning framework. This is because there was an identified and unmet need for individual transport for older people in Hackney to get them to hospital and GP appointments.
The result of this partnership means that we can help people get to their health appointments where they may have otherwise struggled. Since June 2015 we have been providing transport to get people to hospital and GP appointments. We offer transport within Hackney that is flexible, accessible safe, friendly and supportive of older people regardless of their needs. This means that paramedics can spend more time dealing with urgent transport because we can provide additional transport for non-medical appointments and ultimately we can make services more accessible.
After several months of delivering on the framework, we expanded our transport to take individuals to social activities. This was following recognition by the CCG and HCVS that through supporting people to get to events, such as Bingo, Church, luncheon clubs, we could further impact on their mental health and wellbeing. This has resulted in some of the most vulnerable individuals feeling as though they have a new lease of life.
In June 2016 we further expanded the programme to be able to reach out to individuals with higher needs and dementia. The CCG had noted that drivers need to focus on driving and HCT were not able to take referrals where there was a need for a carer or support during the journey. We have been piloting the additional passenger assistant scheme as part of this and are delighted that this has been extended to March 2018.
Through a close relationship between ourselves, Hackney Council for Voluntary Services and the CCG we have been able to achieve a number of positive outcomes for people who are part of the CCG programme. We have contributed to maintaining good health and provided access to social events which have all promoted emotional and physical wellbeing. This has been achieved through the 545 passenger journeys we completed between June 2015 and December 2016.
In one case we recently worked with a patient who was referred to us from their GP. This patient had recent cognitive decline, reduced mobility and didn’t have a care package in place. This led to the patient’s wife having carer’s responsibilities. One Hackney, an organisation that aims to provide co-ordinated healthcare services in City and Hackney, completed a home visit and discussed accessing additional services to support both of them at home. They identified a local lunch club for the individual to attend which he was happy to self-fund using his Disabled Living Allowance (DLA). He now attends twice a week with transport from Hackney Community Transport.
This work shows the value of community transport working in healthcare settings and the benefits that can be brought through a partnership approach. If you would like to find out more about this work you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you have a story to tell about the work you do helping people access healthcare, you can email the Community Transport Association via email@example.com