10 June 2021

The pandemic has seen some of the busiest months on record for the Camden Rapid Access Service. Taking on more referrals than ever before and supporting patients to stay at home has seen the service continue to avoid admissions and reduce pressure on hospitals.

“During the pandemic, it got busier and we never stopped,” says Gareth Turner, Therapy Lead for the Camden Rapid Access Services. “We were supporting patients to stay at home, helping them to stay as healthy and well as possible in the community. It reduces pressure on the system and our GP colleagues by the integrated rapids team delivering highly skilled nursing care and complex therapy support in patients’ own homes. It is not only preventing patients going to hospital, but an extra layer of stopping them potentially catching the virus.”

Despite the challenges of a pandemic and the ever-changing nature of the caseload, the Rapids team works hard to put in place whatever patients need to remain safe at home. Avoiding an admission in the first place, or ensuring patients get home as soon as possible if admitted, reduces their risk of hospital acquired infections, the risk of functional deterioration as well as limits costs.

“People generally don’t want to be in hospital. People prefer to be at home where it’s warm, comfortable and they have control over who visits them and when, even if they are unwell. Camden Rapid Access Services enables this to happen,” he says. “Every day is different, you never know when the phone is going to ring and what the referral will be – but the team thrives on the challenge!

Camden Rapids a fully integrated service, offering advanced nursing care, skilled mobility and functional assessments and intervention, medical prescription and care packages, usually the same day and often within two hours.

Camden Rapids Picture_Small.jpg

They are made up of nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers and a pharmacist - one of the few teams that combines these professional groups. They work autonomously and then come together, applying their group knowledge and experience to further explore patient needs.

“Camden Rapid Response received a referral from a GP for a 92-year-old patient, with reduced mobility and probable UTI, who was showing no improvement after three days,” says Gareth.

“A nursing assessment was undertaken within two hours of the referral, with the nurse prescriber changing the course of antibiotics. An occupational therapy assessment was also completed providing the patient with functional devices such as a wheeled commode for toileting and a riser recliner chair to enable sitting out of bed. Combining the outcomes of these assessments, a care package was put in place and after three days the patient’s signs improved. For ongoing support, we were able to supply a referral for adult social care and community rehabilitation. 

“We have to react quickly, efficiently and always with the patient at the centre of their care. There is no buzz like walking through a door and walking back out making a huge difference to a patient’s life in a matter of hours.”

Recently, Camden Rapids recruited a new Lead Nurse, Toby Daniel, who has a background in A&E.

“When I was an agency nurse I came along and did some shifts with the team. I fell in love with Rapids and decided this is where I want to work,” Toby says.

“A large portion of my career has been as an A&E Nurse. Previously, I worked in sexual health (I’m really passionate about HIV knowledge); I was Nurse Lead for a COVID Response Team; I’ve worked in IV Teams; Ambulatory Care; COVID Vaccination Hubs and an Emergency Admission Unit. I also spent a year of placement in the community.

“Undertaking all of this has allowed me to pick up some really useful clinical skills and just by means of exposure, some really amazing experiences.”

The service also supports a regular flow of healthcare students from a range of higher education bodies. Sharon and Adya – two of CNWL’s healthcare assistants who recently undertook a placement with Camden Rapids – praised the team for their learning experience as well as the support and advice they received throughout.

“It’s quite an interesting place to work and you don’t normally get exposure to it. It feels more like a family than a team. Having students in the team is a big thing because that’s how you develop the next lot of people who want to work in the service,” says Gareth. “We’ve also had a number of redeployed staff who have continued to work with us, which is a real highlight.”

If anyone would like to come and spend some time with Rapid Access Services as part of their career development, or are able to offer bank shifts please contact Toby Daniel (Nurse Lead) or Gareth Turner (Therapy Lead) on 020 3317 3449.

Please note: this picture was taken prior to the coronavirus pandemic.