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Kerry to benefit from Pathfinder expansion

 Seven ambulance service staff standing in front of an ambulance outside.

The Pathfinder service has been expanded to include Kerry in recent weeks. Delivered by University Hospital Kerry (part of the HSE South South West Hospital Group) and the National Ambulance Service (NAS), the service has been set up to safely keep older people who phone 112/999 in their own home rather than taking them to a hospital emergency department. Pathfinder improves outcomes for older people by providing safe alternative care at home rather than in hospital.

Welcoming the introduction of the service to Kerry, Mary Fitzgerald, Hospital Manager, University Hospital Kerry, said they were “extremely pleased to be able to offer this service to suitable older people here in our local Kerry community."

"Through the Pathfinder model, many older patients can be safely and appropriately managed in their own home rather than being transported to the ED for assessment when they dial 112/999. Pathfinder aims to reduce congestion in busy emergency departments and makes for a better environment for patients and staff on the floor whilst improving overall flow through the ED. The service enables increased ED capacity to care for other patients, by supporting this cohort of complex, frail patients at home.”

John Joe McGowan, General Manager Operations, NAS West, added that “some patients who present to the emergency department have non-urgent care needs that could be treated elsewhere. Overall, Pathfinder has shown that it is a safe and acceptable service for older people who dial 999/112 with low acuity complaints.”

Robert Morton, Director of NAS, added that the expansion of the Pathfinder model is part of a plan to offer different groups of patients an alternative pathway other than presenting to a busy emergency department: “The National Ambulance Service is very pleased with the outcomes being achieved, for individual patients, by this service and we are delighted to be working with University Hospital Kerry which has agreed to support the expansion of the Pathfinder model to this part of the country.”

The Pathfinder ‘Rapid Response Team’ respond to 999/112 calls for older people (65 years and older) in their homes. The older person is assessed by both an advanced paramedic and an occupational therapist/physiotherapist. Where safe, the team supports the older person at home rather than transporting them to an emergency department, by linking with a wide range of alternative hospital and community services.

Pathfinder also operates a follow-up team (physiotherapy and occupational therapy) which provides immediate home-based rehabilitation, equipment provision and case management in the subsequent days following a 999/112 call. The service will operate in Kerry from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays. In addition, the advanced paramedics for Pathfinder will operate on Saturday and Sunday for follow-ups, catheterisation and advanced life support.