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New program aims to achieve better patient outcomes for Central Coast hospitals

The Central Coast Local Health District has introduced a new program to allow patients and their families the opportunity to ‘REACH’ out for help when they notice a subtle change in condition while in hospital.

The REACH program is based around the surf lifesaving concept of raising your hand for help and has been designed to encourage patients and their loved ones to speak up if they recognise even the slightest sign of clinical deterioration.

The new initiative has been rolled out across several wards at Gosford and Wyong hospitals and aims to build on the delivery of quality health care across the region, while opening up the channels of communication between patients, families and District staff.

REACH is an acronym which easily explains the process involved in the patient and family activated response system and stands for:

Recognise a change in condition
Engage with a doctor or nurse
Act on your concerns
Call for a clinical review
Help is on its way

A REACH call will result in an independent assessment by a senior nurse to determine the nature of the call and manage the situation as appropriate. This may include a Clinical Review by a Medical Officer or a Rapid Response team.

District Chief Executive Dr Andrew Montague said REACH was first trialled in Gosford Hospital’s Children’s Ward in 2015 and has since led to being successfully introduced to other parts of Gosford and Wyong hospitals.

“Patients and their families are often more aware of subtle changes that may signal clinical deterioration,” Dr Montague said.

“In many cases patients cannot always personally express their symptoms and sometimes small signs may not be obvious to staff which is why a special escalation system has been developed to ensure nothing goes undetected.

“By introducing this program the District is striving towards better health outcomes for our patients and providing quality care for the local community.”
Dr Montague said the program was strongly advocated by the Clinical Excellence Commission and was a proactive way to involve patients and their families in open and consistent communication.

“Similar programs have been effectively used across the country and internationally to improve a patient’s hospital experience and ensure there is no delay in recognising and responding to small and subtle signs which could potentially lead to a decline in condition.

“This particular program is not a mandatory requirement which shows the District is going above and beyond to ensure our patients receive exceptional care and treatment.

“While the REACH program is an effective communication tool for our patients and clinical staff, it’s also important to mention the REACH program is not a system to provide feedback. The District has other measures in place to deal with general concerns or complaints about care received while in hospital.”

Media enquiries and interviews:
Central Coast Local Health District
Clare Graham, Communications Officer
(02) 4320 3938 or 0408 861 348

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