A HUGE donation has sparked the launch of a new project which will help people avoid unnecessary hospital stays.

The British Red Cross has launched a pilot scheme - which will run for 12-months - to help people aged 50 plus in Conwy and Denbighshire who have been identified as needing extra support due to a pattern of frequent hospital attendance or calls to the emergency services.

The launch - held in Abergele - follows a grant of £84,460 from North Wales Freemasons.

The project aims to help people who call 999 or go to emergency departments more than 12 times a year.

Trained Red Cross staff will work in partnership with emergency services and ED teams to find people who could benefit and refer them to the service, help identify the root causes of their frequent attendance and to develop coping strategies.

Kate Griffiths, director of independent living and crisis response for the British Red Cross in Wales, said: "By providing emotional and practical support, helping build confidence, and signposting to other services in their community that could help, the team will aim to increase a person’s health and well-being, independence and resilience.

Rhyl Journal:

"It is hoped this will reduce the number of calls to the emergency services and visits to the NHS, saving money, freeing up resources and improving the lives of those who are helped by the project."

People, set to benefit from the scheme, may have multiple, complex needs including loneliness, social isolation or drug and alcohol dependency issues.

The grant from North Wales Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Stanislava Sofrenic, Independent Living operations manager for Red Cross Wales, said: “I’d like to thank North Wales Freemasons for their generous donation, which has enabled us to set up this invaluable scheme.

"Our smaller pilot project in Swansea demonstrated that early intervention with people who use NHS and emergency services frequently has a significant impact both on improving their lives and reducing pressures on NHS and emergency services’ resources."

John Hoult, of North Wales Freemasons, said: “We’re very pleased to be able to support the fantastic work being done by the British Red Cross in North Wales.

“This will have a huge impact on the users of the emergency services and will make a big difference to improving their lives.”