The Pathfinder service which aims, when it is safe, to keep older people who phone 112/999 in their own homes rather than taking them to a hospital emergency department, is now live in many parts of the country.
The collaborative service is now operational in Dublin, Limerick, Tallaght, Waterford, Kilkenny, Cork, Letterkenny and Galway.
Pathfinder improves outcomes for older people by providing safe alternative care at home rather than in hospital and is provided by National Ambulance Service staff working with colleagues from the hospitals.
The Pathfinder Rapid Response Team respond to 999/112 calls for people (65 years and older) in their homes. The person is assessed by both an advanced paramedic and an occupational therapist/physiotherapist. Where safe, the team supports the older person at home rather than transporting them to the emergency department, by linking with a wide range of alternative hospital and community services. Pathfinder also operates a follow-up team (physiotherapy and occupational therapy) which provides immediate home-based rehabilitation, equipment provision, and case management in the subsequent days following a 999/112 call.
“Pathfinder aims to reduce congestion in busy EDs and makes for a better environment for patients and staff on the floor whilst improving overall flow through the ED,” said Chris Kane, General Manager, University Hospital Galway.
“We know that the Pathfinder model demonstrates that pre-hospital services can help to safely keep older people, who have phoned 112/99, in their own home rather than transporting them to a hospital ED for assessment.”
On average two-thirds of patients seen by Pathfinder following a 999 call have remained at home rather than being brought to the ED.
Robert Morton, Director of the HSE National Ambulance Service, said the expansion of the NAS Pathfinder model was part of a plan to offer different groups of patients alternative options other than presenting to busy emergency departments.