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Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew is today visiting a new Canterbury DHB service aiming to keep older Cantabrians well at home and spending less time in hospital.
CREST (Community Rehabilitation, Enablement and Support Team) had already been planned by the DHB but was launched under urgency in April 2011 to assist with pressure from the loss of 106 hospital and 635 aged residential care beds damaged in the February earthquake.
The service is continuing to function well, and Mrs Goodhew says it’s a great example of necessity giving a boost to a very useful programme.
“We all know from talking to our own parents that the key thing they want is to be healthy and stay as long as possible in their own home. This service helps ensure that happens.
“Many people think good health care is solely focussed around hospital care. It’s true that hospitals are critically important, but it’s vital that we use them properly. If we overload hospitals with people able to be better cared for at home or in their own community we will end up providing a poorer service overall.
“In this way we can improve health services in the community and we help older people stay well for longer in their own homes.”
CREST involves a liaison team and case managers who establish a tailored rehabilitation programme for each client with advice from Geriatricians and Clinical Nurse Specialists. Community providers deliver these programmes through teams of registered nurses and specifically trained support workers.
People can be discharged sooner from hospital when they are referred to CREST. Some patients can avoid a hospital admission altogether when they are referred direct to CREST by their general practice team.
Since 4 April 2011, more than 1000 people have benefitted from the CREST service. The average age of individuals using the service is 81 and the average time they are cared for in CREST services is 28 days.
While in Christchurch, Mrs Goodhew is also meeting Community and Public Health Service staff and seeing their new offices, which they moved into in February after they were without a base for a year.
She also took the opportunity to discuss how the Canterbury DHB is performing against the immunisation and smoking cessation public health targets despite the challenges the earthquakes have presented across all their services.