SQAD program key in getting patients back home

22 September 2020

A pilot program at Flinders Medical Centre helping long stay patients return home sooner has proven successful, with 725 long stay patients discharged home or into the community within its first eight months.

Southern Adelaide Local Health Network Executive Director of Allied Health, Intermediate care and Aboriginal Health Services, Sarah Woon, said the Supporting Quality Assertive Discharge (SQAD) program assertively works with patients who are at risk of being in hospital for a long time to identify their goals and provide them with the coordinated support they need to return home or into the community.

“We know that long stay patients occupy between 12-15% of the total hospital bed capacity and the ability to transition them home or into the community sooner provides better outcomes for the patient while boosting hospital capacity,” Ms Woon said.

“The SQAD team are able to organise a range of tailored support services for patients including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, NDIS planning, and housing to help overcome the obstacles that may stand in the way of discharge.

“The team monitors current and incoming patients for any risk factors that might indicate a potential long stay and then intervenes to ensure the best possible outcomes for the patient and their families.

“We know that patients often respond better to treatment in their own home or out in the community and that patients that have long stays in hospital are at increased risk of complications and functional decline.

“When we only observe patients in the hospital environment we can sometimes underestimate what their ability to function would be like when they are in their own familiar space.

“By observing patients directly in their own home early in their admission, we can then tailor the specific support they need in their own unique environment which often means they can get home sooner and stay there while they receive their care.

“In this state-first program, the SQAD team is utilising innovative practices such as “discharge to assess” whereby patients are transitioned back home earlier with the support they need and their progress is monitored closely by the clinical team.

“The SQAD program is another way we can ensure we are adding value to our patients’ experiences and we look forward to continuing this program to assist patients and their families to receive their care in the most appropriate environment.”