Virtual wards improving life for care home residents

Residents of care homes in Wiltshire have benefited from a joined up approach to their health and wellbeing thanks to an innovative new scheme to introduce virtual ward rounds.

The joint scheme has been developed by Wiltshire Health and Care, Wiltshire Council, the Royal United Hospital, Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, local GPs, local care homes, the Wiltshire Care Partnership and the Wiltshire Care Home Advisory Group and has been so successful it has been shortlisted for a prestigious patient safety award.

The scheme sees a team of clinicians and specialists from different backgrounds work with care home staff to more effectively look after the health of residents, and provide much needed reassurance for carers and families.

By using IT and virtual meeting software such as Microsoft Teams, clinicians can meet to review care home residents and solve complex challenges.

This can prevent avoidable illness by intervening early before any resident’s condition has escalated and also minimises the need for external appointments which are inherently risky and distressing for frail patients.

As a result of the new initiative, 67 per cent of participating residents have shown improved health and wellbeing.

The virtual wards began with teams supporting two care homes but has proved so successful that residents at 29 homes are now receiving regular support.

James Bury, Transformation Manager at Wiltshire Health and Care said the initiative was progressing well because of successful team work. 

“This initiative has been successful because those closest to the patients, the carers in the homes, can refer residents when they first have concerns about possible deterioration. This teamwork and the way we are working virtually, drastically reduces the time needed to diagnose any issues and implement an improved care plan with the input of all key specialisms.

“This involves lots of different providers and groups cooperating, not reinventing the wheel, just working in a different way.”