A new initiative is changing the way frail elderly patients in Northamptonshire are cared for after suffering broken limbs – supporting them to leave hospital sooner and regain their independence more quickly.

As part of a wider effort to improve our county’s urgent and emergency care services this winter, Northamptonshire’s NHS and social care organisations have developed a new pathway of care known as the ‘non-weight-bearing pathway’.

Previously, older patients would often end up spending several weeks in hospital after breaking bones. This was because even though they might be medically well enough to be discharged, they might not have the support they need to live independently at home while their fractured limbs heal fully.

Under this new initiative, however, patients can now be transferred to a supported-living flat in an extra care home when they are ready to leave hospital. There they can access the assistance they need from professional carers to regain their independence while they recover from their injury.

Jane Taylor, Deputy Director of Urgent Care for Northamptonshire’s CCGs, said: “We’re working with the extra care facilities to ensure that support is in place so patients can rehabilitate ready to go home once they are able to bear weight again on their broken limb.

“Before we introduced this pathway patients were spending six or eight weeks in hospital and then they had to acclimatise to being at home again and get back on their feet. The longer elderly people are in hospital, the harder that acclimatisation becomes.

“What we’re finding now is that patients can very quickly make the transition from the extra care facility back home – and because of the support they’ve received they haven’t lost their confidence or the skills to live independently in that time.”

Since its introduction in December 2017, around 200 patients in Northamptonshire have been supported to return home through the non-weight-bearing pathway.