The Quality and Safety team at the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB) hosted a special event in June, to celebrate the hard work of care home teams across the Black Country.

The event, which took place at the Wolverhampton Civic on Thursday 13 June, was an opportunity for care home staff to come together and reflect on their hard work and commitment in implementing a new integrated care pathway within their homes. 

The Frailty, Recognition, End of Life, Escalation of Deterioration (FREED) pathway aims to improve early recognition of frailty, end-of-life planning, and responds to the health decline of individuals in care homes. Deterioration tools, such as stop and watch and the NEWS2 scoring system, assess residents clinical and soft signs of deterioration, ensuring responsive, timely escalation to the most appropriate service and timely access medical care. The purpose of the pathway is to ensure the best evidence assessments and care planning prevents inappropriate admissions to hospital and ensure residents are on the right pathway, at the right time. It also ensures they are cared for in the right place based on their wishes and condition, promoting choice and control at end of life. 

Since being rolled out in September 2022, training has been delivered to more than 197 care homes and more than 3,875 care staff members, which has also included training of FREED champions (of which there are more than 80 ) within these homes building resilience and sustainability through keeping all their staff up to date on the FREED pathway, the tools and training. Since December 2023 this training has been extended to Domiciliary care agencies and to date more than 90 staff working within three care agencies have also received the training. 

During the celebration event, 15 care home teams from the Black Country were presented with a range of Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum certificates and FREED champions badges, in recognition of their work in this area. 

Sarah Sherwood, Quality Improvement and Care Academy Lead Nurse for NHS Black Country ICB, said: “The event was an opportunity for us to come together and celebrate the hard work and commitment of staff in the roll out of the FREED pathway within care homes.

"By taking part in the FREED training, care home staff are empowered to perform clinical observations to be able to recognise both soft sign and clinical signs of deterioration, to utilise the tools to enable them to escalate the concerns to the most appropriate service and enable our most vulnerable to be treated and cared for within their preferred choice of care.  By fully implementing the FREED pathway within their homes, some care homes now have FREED champions to enable new staff as part of their induction to social care receive the training in a timely manner, which is fantastic. 

“The FREED pathway has been a huge success in the Black Country to date and is proven to reduce avoidable admissions to hospital so people can be cared for in their own home. I’d like to say a big thank you to our teams who have embraced this new way of working and work tirelessly day in and day out to provide the best possible care for our patients.”  

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Black Country care home teams at the award ceremony 


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