• Project led by the British Red Cross in partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service.
  • Based in Scotland.
  • Aimed to help older patients with age-related illnesses or long-term medical conditions to stay safely at home and avoid being admitted to hospital without a clear clinical need.
  • Developed a network of specially trained volunteers to provide 'immediate response' support to frail or older people at home.

The British Red Cross developed a network of specially trained volunteers to provide 'immediate response' home-based care service for older people with age-related illnesses or long-term medical conditions.

The aim of the project was to:

  • reduce pressure on existing care pathways by helping patients to stay safely at home and avoid being admitted to hospital without clinical need
  • improve continuity in care plans 
  • support patients to be active partners in their care.

The service involved trained volunteers attending the patient’s home and staying with them until a care team arrived. The Red Cross team:

  • designed a volunteer training package
  • established referral criteria, a policy for supporting the service, and assessment and evaluation tools
  • addressed all relevant areas of clinical governance.

The initiative built on previous work to develop and test a care pathway and referral mechanism to enable statutory health service professionals to connect with volunteers on call, in order to support frail or older people at home during their recovery.

Who was involved

Members of the project team included representatives from NHS Lothian and the Comprehensive Assessment Service Team, as well as a patient representative and a volunteer advisor.

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