Behind the scenes with the OPAL and OPAL+ team

UHB Charity was invited to shadow the OPAL and OPAL+team based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This team has a very important role in which they prevent unnecessary hospital admissions by assessing patients in their homes. In total OPAL and OPAL+ has helped to prevent more than 10,000 unnecessary hospital admissions of older people living in Birmingham and Solihull during the last 12 months.

Opal and Opal+ are a multi-disciplinary team made up of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers and pharmacists, amongst many others and they are based in  the Acute Medical Unit at the QE.

Statistics show that elderly patients are more likely to decline if they are admitted to hospital. The role of OPAL (Older People's Assessment Liasion) is to prevent these patients from being admitted by enabling a''home-first'' approach. This approach helps to avoid premature admissions and allows the patient to recover in their own surroundings. The OPAL team work closely with community services to enable this. If patients are admitted to hospital they will be seen by the OPAL team straight away to get the best care possible.

The OPAL teams are based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and Solihull Hospital.

Dr. Abhishek Gupta, OPAL Consultant and OPAL+ Lead, said, "We ensure the right patient gets the right care at the right time. That is the ethos of OPAL+ and OPAL."

With OPAL being a succesful service that has made a huge difference to patient care in Birmingham, OPAL+ was launched in March this year. This is a collaborative partnership between OPAL and the West Midlands Ambulance Service. This new service runs from 7.30am-8pm seven days a week and involves using telephone and video technology to allow the OPAL+ team to connect to patients in their homes. An Entity Assesment is carried out on the patient in their environment to assess the best options for them. Patients have said this new service has been really useful as they can remain in a familiar environment whilst getting the treatment they need. Often carers and family members who are with the patient contribute to the assessment too.

Dr. Abhishek Gupta, OPAL Consultant and OPAL+ Lead, said, "On average OPAL+ can receive between 60/70 calls a week and out of these calls 80% don't need to be admitted to the hospital. 20% of the calls will be admitted to hospitals nearby, usually at Solihull or Good Hope Hospital. Calls are varied and unique. Every patient has their own unique problem which we will handle in the best way possible. I don't want patients to come to a busy hospital especially with the pandemic if it can be avoided. There is no better place than home and we find this is the ideal place for our patients to get the help they need."

To help the OPAL+ team achieve their vision further, UHB Charity has funded a 'Project Manager' positon. This role will play an important part in showcasing the incredible work this team do for patients in Birmingham.

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