Stephen became a community resuscitation officer in 2001, and today works at the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust - an integrated care organisation (ICO). They provide health and social care across both acute and community services, with a focus on taking care of people in their own homes and avoiding admissions to acute care settings where possible. The area that they cover is sprawling, and includes Ashburton, Dartmouth, Dawlish, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, Torbay, Paignton, Totnes and Brixham.
Just like other resuscitation officers, no two days are the same for Stephen. Most days have fixed training courses, such as Immediate Life support, basic life support, mandatory training, or bespoke Adult and Paediatric courses with AED. He also delivers courses on anaphylaxis and recognition of the sick adult. He works to teach all community staff paediatric basic life support, as staff have incidental access to children as part of their day to day job and this is also included on all adult courses.
The bread and butter part of Stephen’s job is training, following up cardiac arrests in their community hospitals, supporting staff, providing and maintaining resuscitation equipment, auditing resuscitation trolley/equipment to ensure it is fit for purpose and ready for use, attending health centres/hubs, sorting out e-mails and bespoke training and attending resuscitation steering group meetings. It’s a lot of plates to keep spinning, but Stephen also ensures he supports the lead of service with the development of resuscitation policies (and presenting them if required) and supports Advanced Life support courses at Torbay Hospital. Stephen is also a member of the Resuscitation (UK) Immediate Life Support Subcommittee.
Although Stephen’s job sees him undertake many typical resuscitation officer duties, there are elements of his job which are quite unique given that his trust is an ICO. All of Torbay and South Daveon’s community hospital/MIU sites do not have cardiac arrest teams, so we are reliant on the 999 ambulance services to attend and, when necessary, transfer patients to secondary care. This is why we ensure that as many clinical staff as possible attend the RCUK Immediate life support courses.
It’s an ever evolving structure. Changes to local health care mean that there is a push to deliver more care in the patient’s own home and to prevent readmission to hospital. There are many unique situations that community staff will have, such as no access to large amounts of resuscitation equipment. They have immediate care teams that are nursing, OT, or Physio that complete vital signs in people’s homes to ensure they identify the ill patient before it becomes an emergency situation.
In some community based settings they have cardiac arrest trolleys with AED, suction units, Oxygen, IGEL and other areas have grab bags with basic airway equipment, suction units and oxygen. They also have support from a number of staff in Community Hospital minor injuries units, ward-based staff, District/Community Nurses, Dental clinics, Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, podiatry, community midwives, Public health nurses, dermatology staff, among others.
For staff that work in the acute settings, they feel very lucky that the staff are able to access the cardiac arrest teams by dialling 2222 and confirming to the Adult, Paediatric, or Maternal cardiac arrest team where the cardiac arrest has happened. In the community, it has to go through a 999 call, and they must provide more detailed information to the ambulance service, as incorrect information can lead to a delay or incorrect type of response. One of the particularly challenging areas is Devon. It is quite a rural area that the ambulance service has to cover, meaning that at times it can take longer for an ambulance to arrive and staff have to manage the situation in the best way they can. They do a lot of work around prevention and addressing ‘Do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation’ when appropriate and required.
There’s much to do for Stephen, but he feels the best part of his job is promoting resuscitation.
“By delivering good quality courses, it enables staff to make a big difference should they be in the situation of having to deal with an ill patient or cardiac arrest situation. Working in the integrated care organisation gives me the opportunity to support and teach all types of staff groups,” he says.
Stephen also values the support provided by his colleagues, saying “I work as part of a team of resuscitation officers and get valued support from my manager, the Resus Lead Megan, and colleagues Glynn and Martin. At times, being a community resuscitation officer, you can feel a little isolated and it's good to have network of resuscitation officers for support.”
Thank you to Stephen for talking about his work – you can learn more about the work that Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust do from their website. If you’d like to be featured in our next newsletter, please email Emily Pulham at Emily.Pulham@resus.org.uk.