Worried about your treatment? Pick up the phone and REACH for help

Auburn Hospital ED nurse unit manager Naresh Kc, consumer representative Russell Ashley and Auburn Hospital general manager Jenelle Matic at the launch of REACH in the emergency department.

Nobody knows you better than you, your family and carers – which is why the power to escalate any medical concerns is stronger than ever in Auburn Hospital’s emergency department (ED).

Last week the ED became the first in Western Sydney Local Health District to implement REACH – a system that helps patients, their family and carers escalate their concerns about worrying changes in a patient’s condition.

REACH was inspired across NSW by the preventable death of six-month-old Kyran Day in 2013.

It was found the death could have been avoided if his parents’ concerns were listened to and escalated sooner after arriving at an emergency department on NSW’s south coast.

The system empowers patients, families and carers who know best when something is wrong, to quickly raise the concerns with their nurse or doctor.

It has been in place for several years across inpatients areas in Western Sydney LHD, with 52 REACH calls placed across the District last year. Auburn Hospital is the first emergency department to implement REACH.

Anyone with concerns can call for an independent review using one of the dedicated blue REACH phones clearly marked in the ED waiting room and admitted patient area.

Clerical support officer Sharon Busuttil takes the first (practice) REACH call inside Auburn Hospital emergency department.

Clinical nurse consultant Asha Baby has driven the implementation in Auburn Hospital ED based on lessons learned from other wards, as well as Concord Hospital ED.

“This is all about deteriorating patients, and giving a clear avenue for patients, families and carers to escalate any concerns. It will alleviate a lot of anxiety,” Asha said.

“This is a good thing for that will lead to improved involvement in care and patient experience.”

REACH is a Clinical Excellence Commission initiative – the lead agency supporting safety improvement in the NSW Health system.

It’s all about giving power to those best-placed to recognise worrying signs of clinical deterioration. The acronym stands for:

Kyran Day’s parents Grant and Naomi worked with the Clinical Excellence Commission on REACH.

Blacktown resident Russell Ashley helped contribute to the program from a consumer perspective.

The 68-year-old retiree has type 2 diabetes and uses his experience to improve the healthcare system as a consumer representative, providing insight on everything from signage and pamphlets to recruitment.

Russell had the owner of making the first (practice) call after his feedback helped improve the program at Auburn before it was implemented.

“REACH is a good safety net. It gives people the means and opportunity to have immediate intervention when they notice something is wrong. When things go downhill it means you have somewhere to call,” Russell said.

“The ED has done a lot of training to make it work, so it’s good to see it implemented. It gives me personal satisfaction to see the comments we make are heard and put into practice to make things easier, and ultimately improve interactions and patient outcomes.”

The REACH phone and its instructions are located in the Auburn Hospital emergency department. It is available for use by patients, their families or carers.