Most of us don't want to go to hospital. Even when we have a serious illness or injury most of us will not need a hospital bed because we can be cared for at home or in our local community. After all, it's much nicer to be helped to stay safe and well at home where we are happier and recovery can often be quicker..
This is what Norwich's new Virtual Ward - called HomeWard - is doing.
It is run by expert nurses and therapists from Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) and is a major part of NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group’s New Model of Care.
Patients who are medically stable can be discharged early from hospital and return home, or referred to the virtual ward by their GP rather than needing to go into a hospital. It has meant there is more space at Norwich Community Hospital for patients to recuperate after their treatment at the Norfolk and Norwich Community Hospital or that patients can leave the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital sooner.
Once home, they have been looked after by the specialist team of nurses and therapists, usually for between 3-5 days. The patients have received the same level of care and monitoring that they would have received in hospital, which is why it is called a ‘virtual ward’.
Rosie Salmon, an Occupational Therapist with the virtual ward team, said: “It’s fantastic that the virtual ward is already making such a difference to our patients.
“Not only does it mean they can return to the comfort of their own home more quickly, but also keeps hospital beds free for those in the greatest clinical need.”
Mr Paul Groom was helped to stay out of hospital by the caring HomeWard staff, who brought treatment to his home. Mr Groom said: “The staff are very friendly at the hospital, but I still didn’t want to be there. I’m glad I could come home when I did. It’s so much better to be in your own lounge and bedroom.”
From April to November 2016, Homeward achieved:
- An average of 16 patents per day
- 10120 visits to patients
- 197 admissions to acute hospital avoided
- 67 A&E attendances prevented