Whiteabbey Nightingale stands down Covid-19 rehabilitation

The Northern Health Trust has announced the Whiteabbey Nightingale has now stood down Covid-19 referrals.

The trust says the reduction in Covid-19 inpatients across Northern Ireland means the requirement for enhanced rehabilitation services has also decreased.

The unit opened in November to provide enhanced rehabilitation to Covid-19 patients and assist with bed flow by freeing up acute beds across the province.

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Due to the overwhelming success in achieving positive patient outcomes, the unit and its specialist staffing will remain in place and become a Regional Non-Covid Enhanced Rehabilitation Unit, whilst work is underway to explore the next patient cohort who will benefit from the service.

Health Minister Robin Swann visiting Whiteabbey Nightingale in November. Picture: Michael Cooper

Health Minister Robin Swann thanked all the staff at the Whiteabbey Nightingale centre. He said: “The Whiteabbey rehabilitation centre is a prime example of our health service adapting at pace to the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. The staff at the hospital have provided exceptional levels of nursing and enhanced therapy care during a time of immense pressure and I thank everyone involved for their commitment and dedication during these exceptional times.”

Managed by the Northern Health Trust, Whiteabbey Nightingale is the first unit of its kind in Northern Ireland and involves highly skilled and experienced advanced nurse practitioners, nurses and allied health practitioners with medical input from primary care doctors on a seven-day week basis. Patients undertake a 14-day period of enhanced rehabilitation with all members of the team focused on achieving the patient’s rehabilitation goals.

Outcomes to date have been overwhelmingly positive with 95% of patients remaining well at home. Since its opening, the trust reported, the unit saved 1,654 bed days in the acute setting at a time when the majority of hospitals across Northern Ireland were operating above capacity.

Wendy Magowan, director of operations at the trust, said: “The Whiteabbey Nightingale has had tremendous results not only in saving acute capacity but also in terms of patient outcomes and experience which has been overwhelmingly positive.

“This model shows that specialist teams working in a dedicated facility accelerates rehabilitation and enables patients to return to their baseline mobility, or as close as possible, much quicker. This is obviously hugely beneficial to patients but it also reduces the community input upon discharge so in effect it saves resources both in acute hospitals and in community services.

“To establish this unit at a time when we were dealing with our second Covid-19 surge and within just 81 days, is a true testament to the absolute dedication and teamwork of staff. I am incredibly proud of our team and delighted that we can now use this model for non-Covid patients across Northern Ireland.”

The retention of the model at Whiteabbey Nightingale means there is sufficient flexibility to quickly revert to a Covid-19 model should inpatient numbers increase again. Longer term legacy arrangements are still being explored, the trust added.

Click here to read: Demand for Whiteabbey Nightingale ‘starting to dwindle’


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