SCI Link Workers

WHAT IS A LINK–WORKER?

A Spinal Cord Injuries Link-Worker is defined as:

“A Health Care Professional with a declared interest in, and commitment to, the care and management of people with spinal cord lesions within their own area of practice and influence and in collaboration with their local SCIC”.

The Link-Worker represents a named contact, which their hospital trust and the SCIC can utilise, in order to develop a more collaborative pathway of care for people with SCI admitted to their hospital. As such, the SCI Link-Worker must have been enabled by their local management team and the SCIC, to access appropriate training to prepare them for the role. With the support of local management, each SCI Link-Worker should feel sufficiently empowered to take on the role and responsibilities identified for them.

LINK-WORKER ROLE EXPECTATIONS

(a)  To establish, within your own area of practice, an appropriate awareness of the need for close collaboration between admitting hospital and SCIC and the importance of early referral and transfer of new patients.

(b)  To review and inform current local protocols and care pathways in accordance with any new knowledge acquired through specific learning achievements and networking activities

(c)  To undertake appropriate awareness training ‘in-house’ as a means of disseminating new information acquired

(d)  To specifically demonstrate and teach the most appropriate moving, handling and transfer techniques.

(e)  To advise on the purchase or provision of appropriate aids and equipment to support the care and management of people with SCI within your area of practice.

The SCI-LINK scheme is supported by the Multidisciplinary Association of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals (MASCIP), the British Association of Spinal Cord Injury Specialists (BASCIS) and the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA). The SCI Link-Worker scheme provides local Service Managers with the opportunity for interested and motivated staff members to develop an appropriate appreciation of the needs of SCI patients and the ability to inform local care provision and decision-making through the development, interpretation and dissemination of appropriate evidence-based guidelines.

The value of Link-Workers is also recognised within the NSF for Long-Term Conditions (DoH 2005) as contributing to improved patient care and reducing the incidence of preventable complications.

The potential for SCI Link-Workers to influence the quality and impact of pre-transfer care is demonstrated through significantly improved referral and transfer times, reduced incidence or severity of pre-transfer complications and improved compliance with established, SCI-specific, pre-transfer care guidelines. Most significantly, is the finding that patients transferred from hospitals which support the SCI-LINK scheme are discharged from the specialist SCIC an average 40 days earlier.  A significant benefit for patients and the NHS overall!

An increasing number of Hospital Trusts have established inter-departmental ‘SCI Interest Groups’ to improve collaboration between wards and departments. As it is now a reality that it is not always appropriate to transfer every SCI person to a distant SCIC, particular mention should be made of the efforts by these groups to incorporate local Community Rehabilitation Teams and Centres to establish continuing community care support and provision for those patients being managed locally but with the continuing support of a local SCIC. In addition, the increasing survivability of longevity of people with SCI also means an increased potential for contact with community healthcare workers and the possibility readmission to a local hospital, providing new challenges for the scheme to address in the years ahead.

DOWNLOAD REGISTRATION FORM

SCI Link-worker registration form 2009