Emergency Department Care Navigators Provide Social Care Life Line for Patients

7th February 2024

On hand to offer advice and sign post to services for those accessing the Ulster Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) on a regular basis, ‘ED’ Care Navigator Kathy Webster is an integral part of the team.

Kathy offers vital information on services for adults coming into the ED with complex social needs and she helps them engage with community services, whether it is accessing GP services, dental, housing or counselling services.

In post almost two years, Kathy explains how she works out of the ED department at the hospital on a referral system from the Doctors and nursing staff. “This service is brilliant as it helps people within the community, within their own homes, to find out about services available to them and how that can help them with their individual complex needs.”

“I would provide support within the ED and within the community, for example mentoring and advocacy around areas such as addiction, domestic violence and social isolation. I’ve always been very interested in social issues.”

A typical day for Kathy begins at 7.30am at the ED where she will look at referrals made before beginning an assessment.

“It’s very much a patient led service. I would sit and have a chat with a patient after triage to see what I can do in terms of need and support. It’s an invaluable service as a social issue and lack of help can be causing a medical need.”

Kathy describes her role as a “privilege.” “I have the privilege of listening to the patient and supporting them. It’s the best job I’ve ever done. You are constantly kept on your toes and it’s a role well worth doing. This is an invaluable role to have, one in which health and social care really go hand in hand.”

Kathy has been helping Dundonald’s Brian Ritchie for the past two months after he came to the Emergency Department and he describes her aftercare programme as “exceptional.” “Kathy calls me everyday to check in on me and I look upon her as a friend.”

“I think the service that Kathy provides is something that has to be built upon. With Kathy’s help I was able to furnish my flat and that has given me hope and made such a difference. If it wasn’t for Kathy, I would probably be at the ED on a daily basis. ED Care Navigators are the complete missing link in my personal opinion.”