A SPECIAL Oldham health and social care team carrying out vital patient care and support at local care homes during the Covid-19 crisis has been hailed for its valuable work.

STICH teams (Supporting Treatment in Care Homes) brought together community nurses, allied health professionals and social workers to work directly with care homes that had residents and staff showing possible Covid-19 symptoms.

During each STICH visit the clinical team carried out face to face assessments of each individual patient and remained on site, often for hours at a time, to work with care home staff to identify, manage and problem solve any health-related issues.

The aim was to assist with recognizing potential Covid-19 patients at an early stage, to help with initial treatment and to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions by liaising with local primary care services.

Since commencing in mid-April, the STICH team has undertaken 43 visits to Oldham care homes and has tested 333 residents and 319 staff while on site. It has been able to give immediate support to those who tested positive and vital reassurances to those who tested negative

Julie Robinson, home manager, Acorn Lodge Nursing Home says: “I have been working with the STICH team over the past months and would like to say that this is a fantastic idea. It’s a service that has such a positive impact on our residents and staff.

A Shawside spokesperson said: “Thank you for coming to the Miller Unit at Shawside and swabbing us all. It was amazing to watch your team at work.”

Angela Barnes, strategic partnership manager, The Link Centre, said: “I’m on the Learning Disability Partnership Board and there has been really good feedback about the swabbing service for learning disability residents and staff.

Cllr Zahid Chauhan, cabinet member for health and social care, said: “We knew, even in those early days, that a major challenge was emerging which meant that we had to act fast to implement a locally co-produced plan to provide our care homes with as much support as possible.

“I would personally like to thank those staff who went the extra mile and more to help some of Oldham’s most vulnerable people.

“There is more work to be done and we will not rest until this deadly virus is under control at some point in the future.”

Mike Barker, strategic director of health and resources for Oldham Council and Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The STICH team has seen health and social care professionals working closely together to support some of the most vulnerable people in Oldham.

"It was recognised very early on in the Covid-19 outbreak that there would be a need to further support care homes, residents and staff.

“The team has been able to achieve so much in a relatively short space of time and that’s down to the commitment and hard work of the team members and the professional relationships that have been built across organisations in Oldham.”