Jemma Black is an Urgent Care Nurse at SEQOL, the Swindon-based provider of community health and social care services that last year won HSJ’s Efficient Telehealth Solutions award for its innovative approach to supporting people to self-care at home.

Here, Jemma talks tele/health, focuses on outcomes and explains why she thinks the SEQOL service stands out. You can also catch Jemma in the film above, which was commissioned by Housing LIN and Skills for Care to showcase SEQOL’s integrated working.

Ever thought about what health means to you?

It is one of those things that are taken for granted when you have good health. When it starts to deteriorate, we realise then how much of an impact it has on our lives. There are hundreds of people around Swindon living with chronic conditions, such as congestive heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes. This can mean regular hospital admissions, which can soon dent your confidence in your own body’s abilities.

I work as a telehealth nurse for SEQOL. I have seen how having equipment in people’s homes (monitoring blood pressure, oxygen levels, pulse, weight and blood sugars) has improved the quality of life for many patients across Swindon. They take their readings daily on the equipment, which is simple to use. The machine talks them through what they need to do. The telehealth patients range from 21-97 years old, with a majority of them over 70. The readings come through to our computers at the hospital and they are reviewed every day. When the vital signs are outside the tailored parameters set for the individual, it triggers off a cascade of activity, including calls to the patient, retesting the readings, questions to ascertain the problem, working with community matrons, specialist nurses, GPs, out of hours GPs, social workers and carers.

I have seen great patient outcomes for our patients. Where blood pressure has been increasing, we have picked this up and worked quickly and closely with their GP. Blood pressure medication has been instigated and heart attacks and strokes have potentially been avoided. Chest infections are identified quickly, without the need for a trip to their GP, and antibiotics have been started, avoiding a hospital admission as well as the risk of worsening symptoms for the patient.

There are other providers of telehealth services, so why has our service been singled out for national recognition?

I think our service stands out above others because of how we work. We work as a big team, made up of many specialist areas of health and social care professionals, with the patient at the centre of it. They have tailored care plans and many have emergency medications at home, to start taking in the event of worsening symptoms, nipping serious exacerbations in the bud, often avoiding hospital admissions and reducing the amount of GP visits.

Telehealth does not replace the nurse, but it does enhance the time spent with healthcare professionals, so more appropriate visits and support can be provided to each of the patients. The patients have a better understanding of their condition, making them more in control of their own health and wellbeing. The equipment is easy to use, so patients aren’t overwhelmed by the technology side of the service. Many patients have reported that they feel they have more peace of mind and self-confidence, which is the outcome we all want.

Read more about Jemma Black, Urgent Care Nurse at SEQOL

Read a SEQOL telehealth case study