A TALENTED young artist is raising awareness of a new programme being rolled out across Sunderland care homes to help spot the early signs of illness.

Shane Wilding, 43, a resident at Ashwood Court, which supports young adults and older people living with mental health problems, has used his skills in street art to create a vibrant new painting, that shows off the NEWS (National Early Warning Score) kit, equipment that is now used by healthcare professionals working in the home to spot changes in residents’ condition.

The large painting, in the grounds of Ashwood Court, draws attention to NEWS, which uses a score – based on straightforward medical observations – to assess whether someone may be becoming unwell.

The kit, which includes equipment to test a person’s blood pressure, oxygen saturation levels and temperature, generates a NEWS score based on readings collected by the care worker. If the score is high, and care workers believe someone is unwell based on other observations or symptoms – like what the person is telling them, any visible signs of illness or other observations indicative of ill health – the care home is then able to discuss the case with a clinician, who can remotely access the NEWS score they have collected and make a decision as to whether medical intervention is needed.

Shane, who moved into Ashwood Court in Hendon, in October 2017, created the large piece of artwork after the care home adopted the new technology. He said: “I love painting and I thought it would be good to create a piece of artwork that shows off the NEWS system, so people can know more about what it is and how it works.”

Staff at Ashwood Court believe it will help to raise awareness of the NEWS kit and hopefully ensure that visitors to the home – as well as residents – are able to better understand what the purpose of the kit is and how the observations staff may take will help to flag issues in someone’s health as quickly as possible.

Helen Taylor, registered manager at Ashwood Court, said: “Shane has a huge passion for art and his work is really eye-catching – the corridors and communal areas of the home have been transformed with colourful work that residents and visitors really do notice.

“Having a piece of work that relates to the NEWS system that we recently put in place to help our staff spot when someone is becoming unwell, is great and we hope it draws attention to the kit, which is not only enabling our care staff to make decisions with more confidence, but is ultimately helping our residents get medical support in a timely way if they need it.”

The NEWS kit, which is now running at care homes and supported accommodation across Sunderland, has been delivered as part of All Together Better, an alliance which brings together health and social care providers and commissioning organisations in Sunderland to deliver personalised, pro-active and joined-up out of hospital care for people in the city.

Dr Martin Weatherhead, Chair of All Together Better Sunderland, said: “Shane’s artwork is brilliant and I think it will really draw attention to this important programme new technology in Sunderland, that is ensuring that some of our more vulnerable residents, living in care home environments, are able to get the right care when they need it.

“We know that the earlier we spot the signs of illness, the better we are able to get that person the appropriate treatment and ultimately stops their condition from escalating to the point that they need more intensive care. Awareness of this kit will ensure that residents and their families understand what we are doing to keep them well and how smarter ways of working is transforming health and care in the city.”

All Together Better brings together local health and care services, working as an integrated ‘out of hospital’ system, with a shared vision and plans to improve the health and care outcomes for the people of Sunderland. It enables health and social care professionals to work together in a much more joined up way, supporting Sunderland residents and patients with long term illness, health problems, mental health issues and disabilities to access care as close to home as possible and live healthy, independent lives.