The local NHS in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley is investing around £4.2m over the next two years to improve care delivered in people’s homes and local communities, rather than in hospital.

It is the first time that local GPs, health and social care organisations, local authorities and the voluntary sector have all worked together to develop a plan to transform local care services for the people of Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley.

The Local Care programme is focusing on improving care for older people who are frail and patients with complex health conditions to help them stay well and independent in their own homes.  By delivering joined-up care at home this will avoid a number of patients being admitted to hospital unnecessarily and enable them to be discharged from hospital as soon as they are medically fit.

Already a number of new services have been introduced over the past few months and health and care professionals are working together to improve the quality of care for our patients.

As an example, local GP practices now meet regularly in ‘multi-disciplinary’ teams with nurses, therapy staff, mental health, social care professionals and community navigators to share their expertise and deliver personalised, coordinated care to patients with physical, mental and emotional wellbeing needs.

In total, there are six teams being set up by GPs across Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley.

An extended team of Community Navigators has also been introduced.  Community Navigators help people access local services and community support and can link people to other specialist services including carers support, housing, benefits and activities within their local community.  This service has been jointly commissioned by NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group and Kent County Council. 

A new Paramedic-led home visiting service is available for housebound patients, who can now be seen earlier in the day and receive the care they need, rather than waiting until the afternoon for a visit from their GP.   This service is already making a difference to patients and the GPs, whose workload is being freed up to see more patients in their surgeries.

The local Rapid Response service, which provides urgent specialist care at home for people living with a long term condition, is being extended to increase the number of patients it is able to support both within the community and those being discharged from hospital.  The service, which is provided by Virgin Care, focuses on providing rapid community care for patients whose health has deteriorated and are at risk of being admitted to hospital.  The service also provides timely intervention and support for those who have been discharged from hospital to regain their independence more quickly.

Dr Sarah MacDermott, Clinical Chair of Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group said:  “The new local care programme is very exciting as it gives us an opportunity to work differently and bring about real and lasting improvements to local care for the people of Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley.

“No-one wants to be in hospital for longer than necessary, we know that people recover more quickly when they are at home, and we are committed to providing the best possible outcomes and experience for patients. It’s also a great example of how health and social care partners are working together to put patients at the heart of the service.”