People living in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire (BSW) are now able to receive acute clinical care from the comfort of their own home while helping to relieve pressures on local services.
NHS@Home Virtual Wards is a joint initiative provided across BSW by local health and care organisations to support suitable patients to receive the same high level of care, assessment, monitoring and treatment at home or their place of residence, as they would as an inpatient on a hospital ward. This service is also sometimes known as Hospital at Home.
The service provides a range of interventions provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals sometimes using monitoring devices, smartphones and other technology to check patient’s conditions remotely and provide clinical advice and support.
The service was developed following successful frailty virtual ward pilots in B&NES and Swindon in 2020 and during the Covid-19 pandemic where people with respiratory problems were supported at home using devices to monitor blood oxygen levels.
Learnings from these successful programmes are now being used as part of the NHS@Home Virtual Wards Service across BSW.
Dr Mark Luciani, GP Lead for Ageing Well, Frailty, Dementia & End-of-Life and Paediatric Palliative Care at BSW Integrated Care Board said:
“Whilst the service offered through NHS@Home Virtual Wards is not new, the pandemic resulted in more innovative methods being used by local teams. This service allows patients to receive the care they need in familiar surroundings but with support from the most appropriate health and care professionals.
“This is an exciting development in bringing healthcare closer to home for people and enabling closer working between different teams across hospitals, community services and primary care”.
Louise Abson, a GP from Widcombe Surgery in Bath and part of the team developing NHS@Home Virtual Wards said:
“We know that caring for people in their own homes can be really beneficial and means patients will not be separated from their loved ones or away from familiar surroundings and routines. Patients being cared for like this are also less likely to decondition through long periods in bed as they would on a hospital ward.”
This programme also presents some tangible benefits for our under-pressure hospitals as it helps to free up beds during periods of intense pressure.”