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OPAL unit improves the patient journey

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Older patients often require a short admission to the hospital before being medically stable enough to return home.

However, after they are admitted they are often transferred between wards and services, and are therefore seen by different doctors, nurses and allied health professionals during their stay. This can lead to adverse outcomes and affect their length of stay.

To address this, a multi-disciplinary team on Ward 6ATR at Dunedin Hospital have successfully trialled and opened an Older Person’s Assessment Liaison Unit (OPAL unit).

In the Emergency Department patients suitable for the Unit are identified and as soon as they are admitted to the Opal Unit they receive a comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) by the team caring for them. The team then decide what support and treatment the patient needs, and the best place for them to receive it.

From the Unit, patients are either discharged home with their existing or an increased support package; or transferred to a rehabilitation bed if they need continued inpatient care. 

“We’ve improved the patient journey and experience and results show patients are receiving more timely assessments, specialist acute geriatric care and spending less time in hospital.”

Emma Grant, Charge Nurse Manager,

Opal team talking to patient