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  • 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021
  • Project No: 475
  • Funding round: FR19

Care home residents have complex healthcare needs as they often have multiple medical problems and take many medications. An important part of improving residents’ care is to recognise promptly when they become unwell, for example due to an infection, so that they can receive the appropriate medical help in a timely fashion. Recognising when care home residents are becoming more unwell is often very difficult, as older adults may not display signs of being ill.

The ‘National Early Warning Score’ (NEWS) was developed in hospitals to flag up patients who are at risk of becoming critically unwell. This involves the measurement of vital signs; temperature, pulse, blood pressure, breathing rate, blood oxygen level and level of consciousness. There is a national drive for the NEWS system to be adopted in care homes across the United Kingdom. The NEWS gives an indication of how unwell the resident is and the care home staff follow a flow chart, which guides them through how to manage the situation. This may involve a period of observation, or seeking medical attention by calling the GP or an ambulance. This could help carers, including those without nursing training, to recognise when residents are ill, to respond quickly and in the best way. However, we do not currently have research evidence to know if the NEWS is guiding care home staff, doctors and paramedics about the most appropriate course of action for a resident who appears to be unwell.

We will use data collected from approximately 1,500 care home residents who have attended hospital as an emergency, to look at how well the NEWS predicts poor health outcomes, such as dying in hospital. This will help care home staff and healthcare staff to know how if the NEWS can be used to help them respond to care home residents who are at risk of becoming critically unwell.

Co-applicants

Barbara Hanratty, Andrew Kingston (Newcastle)

Amount awarded: £34 956.62

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Evidence synthesis working group

The collaboration will be conducting 18 high impact systematic reviews, under four workstreams.

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