BMJ Publishing Group, Emergency Medicine Journal, 10(37), p. e5.2-e6, 2020
BackgroundHalf a million people live in UK care homes. General practices struggle to deliver primary care for residents due to high demand and staff shortages. Meanwhile, ambulance services are seeing an increase in 999 calls from care homes. In response, some areas are involving paramedics in proactive support to care homes, part of a shift towards paramedics undertaking non-emergency community care. Yet such workforce changes require urgent evaluation to understand implications for residents, staff and health services. We aimed to explore the role of non-emergency paramedics in care homes to support the design of portfolio research.MethodsWe convened a Research Development Group of care home, ambulance service, health board, primary care, public and academic representatives. We:Conducted fact-finding visits to sitesAnalysed 999 call data from care homesSurveyed ENRICH (Enabling Research in Care Homes) care home managers in England and WalesHeld a stakeholder workshop to explore the issuesResultsWe identified sites in England and Wales where paramedics provide non-emergency care in care homes. Operating models varied with paramedics employed by ambulance services, health boards and practices. Monthly 999 data from 300 homes confirmed high call and hospital conveyance rates. Survey respondents thought paramedics were well suited to assessing residents, identifying issues, improving care and avoiding admissions. They foresaw benefits to inter-professional working, clinical support and person-centred care, but raised concerns over professional boundaries and role clarity. These messages were reinforced in our workshop, where the value of timely assessment was highlighted, alongside challenges of funding and governance.ConclusionsThe role of paramedics is shifting into dedicated primary and community work, including care homes. It is imperative that research is aligned and informs evidence based practice. We are developing PERCH2, a feasibility study evaluating the impact of paramedics working in this way.