How Accelerate optimises an illness to wellness strategy for our community

Accelerate as a social enterprise during Coronavirus

March 23rd when the country was put into lockdown is a day that no one will forget. The uncertainty and fear for all was palpable. Daily guidelines were being introduced but this still didn’t offer a long-term solution for how the health & social care sector would manage this unprecedented situation and the impact this would have on individuals health and wellness. For Accelerate seeing our patients as we normally would 2-3 times per week in some instances would have to stop. How would we assess, how would we review and support our patients, as without feeling the affected area, bandaging the leg, dressing the wound and providing skin care surely some patients would deteriorate and this was a concern.

Prompt, innovative decision making instantly became a ‘must do’ as the luxury of time was not on anyone’s side. The team at Accelerate immediately joined forces to uphold their strong ethos on how they would continue delivering patient centred care somewhat differently over the ensuing months. There was no time for ambivalence, or “ I think we could” conversations. The wheels were already in motion and a plan was agreed and ready to implement within days.  This in itself emphasises the benefits of social enterprise status as we have flexibility in implementing innovation at speed if necessary.

This, in essence, means no red tape to stall the plan, no five or more people to sign off a document, no weeks of ignored emails, rather a dedicated team making the impossible happen professionally and promptly……

It’s amazing when different conversations are had even during an emergency situation what ‘must do’ attitudes can achieve and how much more motivated and engaged everyone is to continue providing exceptional care through great team work, in the most difficult circumstances.

On April 1st amid ongoing redundancy and furloughed jobs, Accelerate appointed a Personalisation and Self Care lead to ensure the focus was as needed and to establish a programme of change and engagement which would be meaningful for both health professionals and patients. The start point was a digital solution whilst we continued to build our thinking and learning as to what the strategy needed to over both during and post COVID.

What Accelerate did next

The website became the central focus of our work reflecting the need to deliver at speed to support the needs of our commissioners and partner providers; this approach would ensure our patients had ongoing support and information to better manage their lower limb wounds, lymphoedema and overall wellness during a time when they may be unable to attend appointments due to shielding or government guidance.

We focused our efforts here on sections such as Managing your leg ulcer and lymphoedema at home for patients, and Optimising lower limb compression, chronic oedema and lymphoedema for professionals alongside a Staying Well section during Covid-19.

All dedicated sections focused on how to begin self-management via different conversations with your health professional whilst ensuring a greater understanding of individual triggers to ensure early intervention and prevention. The aim here was for the website to complement the development of our virtual E Consult, embedded in our bespoke management system and making ready to allow patients to continue being assessed and reviewed by the Accelerate team whilst sign posting to the website for further guidance. These appointments would have a multidisciplinary focus and include a Consultant Dermatologist, psychologist and Biomechanics expert to provide a streamlined service ensuring patients felt supported at every step whilst reducing anxiety and promoting wellness.

Linked to the website we introduced a chat box which provided us with the ability and opportunity to speak directly to patients and professionals, in fact anyone visiting our website to answer any and all questions.

We have had questions locally and from places as far afield as USA and Australia needing help and support around their lower leg wounds, swelling, footwear and products to name  but a few examples.

Our experience has enhanced our view that patients really are a fount of knowledge and insight whilst also being a great resource for improvement and change. To acknowledge this potential Accelerate has developed a Patient Portal, again embedded with the bespoke management system, which will link to self-management initiatives and wellness. Patients here will have virtual access to work with professionals collaboratively to build on their existing knowledge of how to better manage their care and become an active participant in achieving their health and wellness goals.

What has amazed us most is the commitment and resilience of our patients who have embraced self-management and worked with us to ensure they stay well. Below is a recent comment from one of our wonderful patients taken from the website: 

“Thank you for not making me feel like a lost cause, I am optimistic about my wounds now healing and clear on what steps I can take myself to assist in healing!”

As an organisation we are driven to keep our change focus as for sure the future is unpredictable but our presence in it, a demonstrable part of the solution to facilitate and enable successful engagement at many levels throughout the health system, always beginning of course, with the patient

The future is definitely unpredictable but we will continue to make sure that we continue to be a demonstrable part of the solution to facilitate and enable successful engagement at many levels throughout the health system. In everything we do and every service we offer, we will always begin with the needs of the individual patient.