ECL launches pioneering Ward-led Enablement programme at ESNEFT Colchester Hospital site

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The ward led enablement team

The Ward-led Enablement programme delivered in partnership with Essex County Council (ECC) and the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) aims to get older hospital patients up and moving around as soon as possible after their treatment to improve their recovery time.

Research has shown that bed rest is not the best way to recover from many illnesses and injuries. In fact, immobility can actually increase recovery times. According to the British Geriatrics Society*, a 10-day hospital stay can cause 10 years’ worth of muscle aging, with older patients spending up to 83% of their time in bed and often a further 12% in a chair.

Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Cllr John Spence said: “It is well known that the sooner people can become active after an illness or operation, the better, and nowhere is that more true than among our older population. We also know that clinical staff like nurses are very hard pressed, so this collaboration between ECL, ECC and ESNEFT is absolutely the right thing to do.”

Reablement support is usually provided at home following hospital discharge, but this initiative was developed following observations that older patients may benefit from reablement support before leaving hospital.

Debbie Edgell, ECL Reablement North Essex Regional Business Manager said: “Staying in bed for too long after injury or illness can actually make it harder for patients to get back to normal when they get home. Our programme is designed help ward staff to support patients to be as independent as possible during their hospital stay, for example encouraging them to be mobile, up and out of bed, washing and dressing themselves. We call it ‘active reablement’ and our aim is to embed the ethos of active reablement in the hospital setting. Not only will this improve patient recovery time and maximise independence, but it will also reduce the likelihood of extended stays and minimise the need for ongoing at home care following discharge. Initial feedback has been really positive and we are already seeing some great outcomes.”

The trailblazing programme is being launched following a successful six month pilot in 2020. It will run for one year on the Birch Ward in ESNEFT Colchester Hospital Site and if successful, could be extended to other wards/hospitals across North Essex and Suffolk.

Joshua Poole, ESNEFT Transformation Lead said: “The association between immobility and adverse consequences is well established, yet older people as inpatients spend significant amounts of time in bed. By working with ECL we aim to change this and help them regain their independence while on the ward to aid their recovery and reduce the need for ongoing care once they leave hospital. This will not only help to ease pressures on our social care system and reduce the length of hospital stay but will improve recovery of our patients and get them home sooner.”

ECL’s reablement service provides customers with the short-term support they need to regain confidence and independence in their own home following a spell of ill health, surgery or an accident.

Commissioned jointly through the North East Essex Alliance, local authorities and health partners, the service focuses on supporting recovery, stabilisation and confidence building, ensuring that individual needs are met and agreed outcomes are achieved.

For more information about ECL reablement services visit

*British Geriatrics Society research can be viewed here

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