There are concerns about the response times for ambulances in Wales and the pressure that paramedics and other staff faces. How can this affect falls in the elderly?
Ambulance service is a vital component of the healthcare system, and it's crucial to ensure that it is functioning well and that paramedics and other staff can provide the care and services that patients need in a timely and efficient manner. The Welsh government may need to look into the reasons for the delays and pressure and take steps to address them.
Ambulance Delays in Wales
According to the Welsh Ambulance Service, December 2022 was a record-breaking month for calls for the most life-threatening emergencies. The service received more calls for such emergencies than any other month in its recorded history. This highlights the significant strain on the ambulance service and the increased emergency care demand during that time.
The latest figures for November and December:
- Paramedics received almost 6,000 "red" calls for the most severe emergencies in December, the highest ever recorded.
- Ambulance crews responded to only 39% of "red" calls within an 8-minute window in December, the lowest on record and well below the government's 65% target.
- Over 2,800 people attended A&E departments on average
- Typically, A&E patients waited for 3 hours and 2 minutes before being treated, triaged or discharged in December.
- Waiting lists for treatment fell by 6,000 to around 748,000 in November, resulting in about 3,100 fewer people waiting to be treated than in October.
Effects of Delayed Emergency Services on the Elderly
The effects of delayed emergency services on the elderly can be significant and potentially life-threatening. Elderly patients who experience delays in receiving emergency care may be at a higher risk for complications and poor outcomes. As people age, their bodies become more vulnerable to injury and illness, and they may have more complex medical conditions requiring prompt attention.
- When elderly patients fall, they are more likely to experience severe injuries such as fractures, head injuries, and internal bleeding
- The longer they are left on the floor, the greater the risk of these complications.
- Delayed emergency services can also increase the risk of pressure sores, which can be extremely painful and take a long time to heal.
- Another concern is that delayed emergency services can lead to the deterioration of chronic medical conditions.
- An elderly patient with heart failure who experiences a delay in receiving emergency care may be at a higher risk for heart attack or stroke.
- Similarly, an elderly patient with diabetes who experiences a delay in receiving emergency care may be at a higher risk for complications such as amputations and blindness.
In addition to the physical risks, delayed emergency services can significantly impact the emotional well-being of the elderly. Being left alone for long periods, particularly in a vulnerable state, can cause anxiety, fear and isolation. This can lead to an overall decline in the patient's mental and emotional health, making a recovery more complex.
Advanced Paramedics: What Can They Do?
In another BBC article, Carwyn Lewis, an advanced paramedic, says that advanced paramedics, who have received additional training and can provide a broader range of treatments, can help to alleviate some of the pressure on the ambulance service.
Advanced paramedics can treat patients on the scene and reduce the number of people who need to be transported to the hospital. However, despite the efforts to increase their numbers, the pressure on the ambulance service and paramedics still needs to be considered high.
According to Mr Lewis, his role as an advanced paramedic allows him to provide more advanced assessments and examinations, enabling him to keep more patients from needing to be transported to the hospital.
He also mentioned that there are currently 69 advanced paramedics in Wales, including 30 who can prescribe medication and 50 students in training to become advanced paramedics.
Advanced paramedics have additional training and qualifications beyond regular paramedics. Additionally, he highlighted that he works closely with an exceptional team of health and care professionals to explore alternative ways of treating and caring for patients who have called emergency services (999).
How Can Advanced Paramedics Help the Elderly?
BBC Wales reported that they witnessed the impact of pressure on the ambulance service firsthand. Mr Lewis was called to a man in his 60s. He had fallen at his home in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.
By the time he arrived, the patient, who had several disabilities, had been on the floor for some time. But instead of calling for an ambulance, Mr Lewis called a team of healthcare professionals based in Llanelli and prescribed antibiotics. He asked for specialist nurses to go to the patient's home to carry out tests that would have been done in A&E.
This is an example of how the advanced paramedics, working with the local health board, GP, therapists and council care staff, can prevent people from having to go to the hospital or help get them discharged more quickly.
Sam Davies, another advanced paramedic, said that the advanced paramedic team could prevent many patients from being transported to the emergency room. She said that before establishing the Advanced Paramedics team, approximately 70% of calls they received would have resulted in patients being taken to A&E.
However, thanks to their advanced training and qualifications, they have been able to flip the numbers, and now only 30-40% of patients they respond to end up going to the emergency room.
CPR Guardian's Proposed Solution at Home
Despite the success of the advanced paramedic team in reducing the number of patients being transported to the emergency room, Ms Davies says that the strain on the ambulance service remains high. She states that in her 14 years working in the ambulance service, she has never experienced such high pressure.
Here at CPR Guardian, we encourage you to consider getting a fall detection watch. During ambulance delay crises, our CPR Guardian III SOS Personal Alarm with Fall Alert Detector can provide a critical lifeline for elderly individuals who cannot get up or call for help after a fall.
It can help to ensure that use is summoned quickly, which can be especially important for older adults who may be at risk of complications from falls, such as head injuries or broken bones.
CPR Guardian III is an easy-to-use fall alert watch with an integrated sim card. It's a personal alarm that contacts family. They can view the location and well-being of the wearer remotely by using the Guardian mobile APP for Android and iOS. Caregivers can call the fall detection watch and speak to the wearer if a check-in call is needed.
Delayed emergency services can significantly impact the health and well-being of elderly patients. Emergency services need to work to improve response times and ensure that elderly patients receive the care they need as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, fall detection watches can provide peace of mind for caregivers and family members, who may worry about the welfare of their loved ones when emergency services are stretched thin.
Please contact us if you need assistance.