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Pathfinder helps over 1,200 patients remain at home

The five female Kerry Pathfinder team members in uniform standing smiling.


A service designed to reduce unnecessary Emergency Department attendance for older people is now being provided in nine different areas across the country.

The service was first introduced in Beaumont in Dublin and is now also being provided in Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Kilkenny, Tallaght, Letterkenny, Galway and Limerick.

The Pathfinder service has been established to safely keep older people who phone 112/999 in their own home rather than taking them to a hospital emergency department.  It is provided by HSE National Ambulance Service staff working with colleagues from the acute hospitals and improves outcomes for older people by providing safe alternative care at home

During the first eight months of 2023 the service attended to 2,874 callouts.  A total of 42% of the patients (1,207) involved were able to stay at home, where they availed of alternative pathways of care rather than going to hospital.

University Hospital Kerry, part of the South South West Hospital Group, and the National Ambulance Service, recently announced that the Pathfinder service is now active in the county. The service is designed to reduce unnecessary Emergency Department attendances for older people across Kerry.

Welcoming the introduction of the service to Kerry, Mary Fitzgerald Hospital Manager, University Hospital Kerry said they were “extremelypleased 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 homes 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.”

Patient Michael Cunnane from Tralee, Co Kerry, recently availed of the service and was able to stay at home rather than having to go to the Emergency Department in University Hospital Kerry:

“It’s a wonderful service with very experienced staff and the follow-up service was excellent as well.”

Robert Morton, Director of the HSE National Ambulance Service said the expansion of the NAS 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. This may be someone, who for example, has experienced a fall or who is generally unwell.  The older person is assessed by both an Advanced Paramedic and 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 the 999/112 call.

The service will operate in Kerry from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays. In addition, the Advanced Paramedics for Pathfinder will operate on Saturdays and Sundays for follow-up related services, catheterisation, and advanced life support.

Watch the Kerry Pathfinder Team on