• A complex intervention to reduce avoidable hospital admissions in nursing homes: a research programme including the BHiRCH-NH pilot cluster RCT

      Downs, Murna G.; Blighe, A.; Carpenter, R.; Feast, A.; Froggatt, K.; Gordon, S.; Hunter, R.; Jones, L.; Lago, N.; McCormack, B.; et al. (Programme Grants for Applied Research, 2021-02)
      Background: An unplanned hospital admission of a nursing home resident distresses the person, their family and nursing home staff, and is costly to the NHS. Improving health care in care homes, including early detection of residents’ health changes, may reduce hospital admissions. Previously, we identified four conditions associated with avoidable hospital admissions. We noted promising ‘within-home’ complex interventions including care pathways, knowledge and skills enhancement, and implementation support. Objectives: Develop a complex intervention with implementation support [the Better Health in Residents in Care Homes with Nursing (BHiRCH-NH)] to improve early detection, assessment and treatment for the four conditions. Determine its impact on hospital admissions, test study procedures and acceptability of the intervention and implementation support, and indicate if a definitive trial was warranted. Design: A Carer Reference Panel advised on the intervention, implementation support and study documentation, and engaged in data analysis and interpretation. In workstream 1, we developed a complex intervention to reduce rates of hospitalisation from nursing homes using mixed methods, including a rapid research review, semistructured interviews and consensus workshops. The complex intervention comprised care pathways, approaches to enhance staff knowledge and skills, implementation support and clarity regarding the role of family carers. In workstream 2, we tested the complex intervention and implementation support via two work packages. In work package 1, we conducted a feasibility study of the intervention, implementation support and study procedures in two nursing homes and refined the complex intervention to comprise the Stop and Watch Early Warning Tool (S&W), condition-specific care pathways and a structured framework for nurses to communicate with primary care. The final implementation support included identifying two Practice Development Champions (PDCs) in each intervention home, and supporting them with a training workshop, practice development support group, monthly coaching calls, handbooks and web-based resources. In work package 2, we undertook a cluster randomised controlled trial to pilot test the complex intervention for acceptability and a preliminary estimate of effect. Setting: Fourteen nursing homes allocated to intervention and implementation support (n = 7) or treatment as usual (n = 7). Participants: We recruited sufficient numbers of nursing homes (n = 14), staff (n = 148), family carers (n = 95) and residents (n = 245). Two nursing homes withdrew prior to the intervention starting. Intervention: This ran from February to July 2018. Data sources: Individual-level data on nursing home residents, their family carers and staff; system-level data using nursing home records; and process-level data comprising how the intervention was implemented. Data were collected on recruitment rates, consent and the numbers of family carers who wished to be involved in the residents’ care. Completeness of outcome measures and data collection and the return rate of questionnaires were assessed. Results: The pilot trial showed no effects on hospitalisations or secondary outcomes. No home implemented the intervention tools as expected. Most staff endorsed the importance of early detection, assessment and treatment. Many reported that they ‘were already doing it’, using an early-warning tool; a detailed nursing assessment; or the situation, background, assessment, recommendation communication protocol. Three homes never used the S&W and four never used care pathways. Only 16 S&W forms and eight care pathways were completed. Care records revealed little use of the intervention principles. PDCs from five of six intervention homes attended the training workshop, following which they had variable engagement with implementation support. Progression criteria regarding recruitment and data collection were met: 70% of homes were retained, the proportion of missing data was < 20% and 80% of individuallevel data were collected. Necessary rates of data collection, documentation completion and return over the 6-month study period were achieved. However, intervention tools were not fully adopted, suggesting they would not be sustainable outside the trial. Few hospitalisations for the four conditions suggest it an unsuitable primary outcome measure. Key cost components were estimated. Limitations: The study homes may already have had effective approaches to early detection, assessment and treatment for acute health changes; consistent with government policy emphasising the need for enhanced health care in homes. Alternatively, the implementation support may not have been sufficiently potent. Conclusion: A definitive trial is feasible, but the intervention is unlikely to be effective. Participant recruitment, retention, data collection and engagement with family carers can guide subsequent studies, including service evaluation and quality improvement methodologies. Future work: Intervention research should be conducted in homes which need to enhance early detection, assessment and treatment. Interventions to reduce avoidable hospital admissions may be beneficial in residential care homes, as they are not required to employ nurses.
    • Evidence-based intervention to reduce avoidable hospital admissions in care home residents (the Better Health in Residents in Care Homes (BHiRCH) study): Protocol for a pilot cluster randomised trial

      Sampson, E.L.; Feast, A.; Blighe, Alan J.; Froggatt, K.; Hunter, R.; Marston, L.; McCormack, B.; Nurock, S.; Panca, M.; Powell, Catherine; et al. (2019-05)
      Introduction: Acute hospital admission is distressing for care home residents. Ambulatory care sensitive conditions, such as respiratory and urinary tract infections, are conditions that can cause unplanned hospital admission but may have been avoidable with timely detection and intervention in the community. The Better Health in Residents in Care Homes (BHiRCH) programme has feasibility tested and will pilot a multicomponent intervention to reduce these avoidable hospital admissions. The BHiRCH intervention comprises an early warning tool for noting changes in resident health, a care pathway (clinical guidance and decision support system) and a structured method for communicating with primary care, adapted for use in the care home. We use practice development champions to support implementation and embed changes in care. Methods and analysis: Cluster randomised pilot trial to test study procedures and indicate whether a further definitive trial is warranted. Fourteen care homes with nursing (nursing homes) will be randomly allocated to intervention (delivered at nursing home level) or control groups. Two nurses from each home become Practice Development Champions trained to implement the intervention, supported by a practice development support group. Data will be collected for 3 months preintervention, monthly during the 12-month intervention and 1 month after. Individual-level data includes resident, care partner and staff demographics, resident functional status, service use and quality of life (for health economic analysis) and the extent to which staff perceive the organisation supports person centred care. System-level data includes primary and secondary health services contacts (ie, general practitioner and hospital admissions). Process evaluation assesses intervention acceptability, feasibility, fidelity, ease of implementation in practice and study procedures (ie, consent and recruitment rates).
    • Pilot cluster randomised trial of an evidence-based intervention to reduce avoidable hospital admissions in nursing home residents (Better Health in Residents of Care Homes with Nursing - BHiRCH-NH Study)

      Sampson, E.L.; Feast, A.; Blighe, Alan; Froggatt, K.; Hunter, R.; Marston, L.; McCormack, B.; Nurock, S.; Panca, M.; Powell, Catherine; et al. (2020-12)
      Objectives To pilot a complex intervention to support healthcare and improve early detection and treatment for common health conditions experienced by nursing home (NH) residents. Design Pilot cluster randomised controlled trial. Setting 14 NHs (7 intervention, 7 control) in London and West Yorkshire. Participants NH residents, their family carers and staff. Intervention Complex intervention to support healthcare and improve early detection and treatment of urinary tract and respiratory infections, chronic heart failure and dehydration, comprising: (1) ‘Stop and Watch (S&W)’ early warning tool for changes in physical health, (2) condition-specific care pathway and (3) Situation, Background, Assessment and Recommendation tool to enhance communication with primary care. Implementation was supported by Practice Development Champions, a Practice Development Support Group and regular telephone coaching with external facilitators. Outcome measures Data on NH (quality ratings, size, ownership), residents, family carers and staff demographics during the month prior to intervention and subsequently, numbers of admissions, accident and emergency visits, and unscheduled general practitioner visits monthly for 6 months during intervention. We collected data on how the intervention was used, healthcare resource use and quality of life data for economic evaluation. We assessed recruitment and retention, and whether a full trial was warranted. Results We recruited 14 NHs, 148 staff, 95 family carers and 245 residents. We retained the majority of participants recruited (95%). 15% of residents had an unplanned hospital admission for one of the four study conditions. We were able to collect sufficient questionnaire data (all over 96% complete). No NH implemented intervention tools as planned. Only 16 S&W forms and 8 care pathways were completed. There was no evidence of harm. Conclusions Recruitment, retention and data collection processes were effective but the intervention not implemented. A full trial is not warranted.