Working to help patients stay at home – meet the Rapid Response Team

The Rapid Response Team is a team of skilled nursing, occupational therapy and physiotherapy staff who work to treat patients in their own homes – and prevent them being admitted to hospital.

There are 90 people in the team, working out of Bensham Hospital in Gateshead. The team is unique in that it’s made up of nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and rehabilitation assistants.

Patients, relatives, carers or other healthcare professionals can call the team, and they’re available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – they will deal with all calls as quickly as possible with many responded to within two hours.

The team deals with a range of conditions: things like respiratory infections, wounds, falls, and skin infections and urinary infections. Their aim is prevent any deterioration in patients’ health and wellbeing, help patients be as independent as possible to avoid hospital admission, and to support earlier hospital discharge by providing treatment at home.

Ashley Jackson, nurse practitioner

Ashley Jackson, nurse practitioner part of the Rapid Response Team
Ashley Jackson, nurse practitioner

“We work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – for all 365 days a year. Our role is to treat patients with acute injuries or illnesses to prevent their admission to hospital.

We see patients who are acutely unwell, so this includes falls, urinary tract infections (UTIs), respiratory conditions, rashes, injuries and infected wounds. We can also help the district nurses and carry out unplanned care such as urgent blood tests, blocked catheters or dressing care.

I absolutely love my job, I love everything about it! It feels great to be able to help take pressures off the hospital while helping patients to stay where they want to be, in their home. It’s lovely to see patients in their own environment and meet their families.

It’s a lovely team, everyone is friendly and approachable.”

Karen O’Neill-Williams, senior physiotherapist

Karen O'Neill-Williams, senior physiotherapist. She is part of the rapid response team
Karen O’Neill-Williams, senior physiotherapist

“Working in the community is very rewarding as it allows us to take physio into people’s homes who otherwise couldn’t access the service.

‘Our focus is on improving overall levels of function and independence, enabling people to stay active, participate in activities that they enjoy and be able to access the communities they live in. This could be following an injury or illness, or more recently with the pandemic, a period of isolation and deconditioning. We do this through a combination of education, advice, exercise, and personal goal setting which forms very personalised, individual rehabilitation programmes tailored to people’s day-to-day lives.’

I love working in the Rapid Response team, it’s an amazing team to work in. It’s exciting being part of a big, dynamic team which is busy and is often a hive of activity. We have staff from different disciplines and we all come together in a culture of collaboration and support.”

Mary Bellow, occupational therapist

Mary Bellew, occupational therapist. She is part of the Rapid Response Team
Mary Bellew, occupational therapist

“I’ve worked in the team for three years and I work to support people to live independently and safely in their own homes.

I typically see people who have had a functional decline in their daily living, people of all ages who have various medical conditions. Every day is different.

I would do an initial assessment of a patient and their daily routine, before establishing what they need support with. This could be any ADL (activities of daily living) such as washing or dressing, as well as hobbies and interests. I can recommend any adaptations in the home that can help them, as well as equipment or modify tasks to make them easier.

I really like how integrated the Rapid Response Team is – we work so closely together and learn so much from one another. We work so efficiently together, and everyone is so approachable and very friendly.”

Kizzy Rudd, therapy assistant

Kizzy Rudd, therapy assistant. Part of the Rapid Response Team
Kizzy Rudd, therapy assistant

“I work to assist both physiotherapists and occupational therapists – I take referrals from the OTs and physios and do an assessment for the patient to ensure any equipment that has been provided is being used correctly and carry out rehab to support independence at home.

This is a brilliant team, very supportive. It’s interesting because it’s varied, people have a lot of different skills. And it’s also really satisfying to see people maintain their independence and continue to live their everyday lives.”

Karen Baskerville, admin lead

Karen Baskerville typing. She is the administrative lead for the Rapid Response Team.

“I’m the admin lead and I work on many different things across the whole team, such as staffing rotas and dealing with incoming calls and enquires to the service from patients and a range of health and social care staff

This is a fast-moving role that can be very demanding – the typical day is non-stop but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love the variation of our tasks, working alongside everyone and the links across the team.”