28 / 01 / 2016
The challenge of caring for older patients who do not medically need to be in hospital but who need extra support to be at home is a common one. At Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, it is one that has been addressed by the creation of a ‘virtual’ ward.
Hospital Care at Home has been in place since 2013. It is an integrated health and social care service and can care for 20 people at any one time. Instead of staying in an acute or community hospital – or having a temporary spell in a care home – older people receive care in their own homes. This makes it possible to discharge patients from hospital as soon as they are medically fit, safe in the knowledge they can be on the virtual ward for up to six days afterwards or until any new support they need is in place.
The service also means some people do not even need to be admitted to hospital in the first place – GPs and others can refer patients to the virtual ward team.
Following the introduction of the scheme, the West Norfolk System Resilience Group found a significant positive impact on the urgent care system locally. In addition, average length of stay at the community hospital has fallen from 18.4 to 15.1 days.
For more information:
Laura Clear, Deputy Director of Integrated Care and System Lead, Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust