Virtual ward and VAC pump therapies: a patient’s experience

A new VAC pump therapy pathway has been co-produced with our partners at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) to align with the virtual ward already in place, enabling patients to receive treatment in their home, freeing up hospital beds to improve patient flow and capacity.

One of the first patients on the pathway, Christine Bartram, shares her experience of hospital at home with the NNUH at Home service enabling her to leave hospital sooner than expected and recover in the comfort of her own home.

Why the pathway was developed:

Tissue Viability Nurse Specialists (TVNs) at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital identified a gap in the service provisions in the community, resulting in patients remaining in hospital.

Having worked in partnership with the NNUH for some time offering a wide range of clinical interventions in patients’ homes we were approached to provide VAC pump therapy to patients at home for acute or chronic wound care.

The Virtual Ward at NNUH initially provided monitoring and by partnering with HomeLink Healthcare patients have been able to receive in-person visits from experienced clinical teams in their own home.

The new service was developed to align with the existing virtual ward service already provided at the hospital.

Due to the collaborative nature of the partnership the new pathway was quickly mobilised and since then the service has been rolled out which has allowed many more patients to receive VAC treatments at home rather than in hospital resulting in shorter lengths of stay in hospital and increased patient flow and capacity.

A Patient’s Journey: Meet Christine

Christine Bartram, 65, was one of the first patients to receive VAC pump therapy from HomeLink Healthcare.

VAC pump therapy treatment decreases air pressure on acute or chronic wounds which can help wounds to heal more quickly. Christine’s requirement was post-knee replacement surgery.

Stories like Christine’s are why we do what we do.

The team looking after Christine had an important goal when planning her care pathway: to get her discharged and home in time for Christmas, with a care pathway in place. They succeeded – to everyone’s delight.

Christine shares her experience of hospital at home with NNUH at Home

I had a full knee replacement, and received some additional treatment a few weeks later. I was in hospital for a week for the follow up treatment and during that time I had a vacuum pack to draw all the stuff out of the wound.

I went in on Friday, and with the help of NNUH at Home, I came out and was back home the following Friday. I came home with the virtual team of nurses, and a nurse from HomeLink Healthcare came in twice a week to do the dressing. It was absolutely brilliant.

Being able to leave hospital early helped me recover much quicker because you couldn’t have visitors in hospital and I am a people person! I like to see my family and my friends and neighbours. And I could do that at home. Obviously, there were added concerns about being in hospital because of Covid as well, and I was very careful while there. I didn’t want to be in hospital, but I had to be.

My transfer from hospital to home was really smooth. I was kept informed the whole time. The HomeLink nurses phoned morning and evening, and they even phoned on Christmas Day which I was very impressed by!

I was sent home with the vacuum pack, and I was given an iPad, and I had a band on my arm that read my temperature and the oxygen levels in my blood which were monitored by the virtual ward nurses. I was given a cuff to measure my blood pressure every day, and that was recorded as well. So, if there were any spikes or anything, the team would phone me. There weren’t any but that was really reassuring and made me feel safe.

All of the nurses were great and very friendly. I spoke to a few – some video called me and some I spoke to on the phone. Sometimes it was the same nurse, and sometimes it was a different one. They were all very nice, and concerned about how I was doing. I had two different nurses who came to do the dressings and they were brilliant as well. In one instance, where I had been dressed but the next day the vacuum didn’t seem to be working properly, the nurse came out and did it again the next day. That was really good.

I received high quality care from all of the nurses, the same quality as I received in the hospital. The dressing was only done by two different nurses so you build up a bit of a friendship with them as well. And they were on hand if I needed any of them. I could phone and there was always someone there, 24 hours a day. And I was told if I ever needed to go back into hospital, there was a bed for me and I wouldn’t have to go through the system of A & E, I’d just go straight back to the ward, which again was reassuring.

Being in your own home is much better than being in hospital. Covid is one of the reasons: you feel there’s always a possibility that you’re going to be with strangers that you wouldn’t normally come into contact with. Whereas at home, it’s your family and people that you know well. You definitely recover better by being in your own bed, eating your own food – you can have your meals when you want and things like that. Family and friends visited me, which wasn’t possible in hospital.

I really think this is the way forward – to me, the system was fabulous. I never dreamt that there was anything like that available. I didn’t have a problem once I got home and everyone was so helpful. I tell everybody about this – what happened – and I cannot say how pleased I am to have been able to take part in it. It was really ideal for me.

It was a fantastic service that I received and I can’t fault it at all. I’d definitely be keen to use the service again. My experience of hospital at home was A1, it was brilliant – it really was. To someone considering using this service I’d say: don’t have any hesitation at all.

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Find out more about the process of commissioning HomeLink Healthcare to set up a virtual ward.

Get in touch

To speak to a member of our team about virtual wards, call us on (020) 3137 5370 or contact us. You can tell us about your situation, and we can tell you more about our experience of virtual wards and how we might be able to help you.

Virtual wards and how the independent sector can enable their success

Healthcare Support WorkerFollowing their success during the Covid-19 pandemic, NHS England has set challenging targets to roll-out virtual wards across the country. Jill Ireland, our Chief Executive and Clinical Director agrees with NHSE/I guidelines that integrated care systems should be looking to work in partnership with the independent sector. Jill argues that the independent sector has a lot to offer and that working with a specialist provider of hospital at home services is an excellent way for them to deliver successful services.

Covid-19 put almost intolerable pressure on the country, the NHS and communities; but one of the unexpected benefits of the pandemic was the realisation that many more patients can be cared for at home.

The pandemic provided an opportunity to try out new ways of working, and we saw the rapid roll-out of virtual multidisciplinary teams, virtual clinics and consultations, remote monitoring and virtual wards.

As the health and care system looks to recover and reset, NHS England and Improvement is looking to build on these developments to address some of the challenges posed by the huge backlog of elective care.

More than 6 million people are now waiting for treatment in England, and the list is rising by 100,000 people per month. With the hospital beds that are available under enormous pressure, NHS England is looking to virtual wards to create additional capacity.

Virtual ward targets, guidance, and funding

Virtual wards will only be successful if they combine partnership working, technology, and skilled clinical teams.

  NHSE/I has set a target for every integrated care system to create 40-50 virtual ward beds per 100,000 people in their population.

Guidance in April set out ‘enablers for success’ that stressed ICSs should not use virtual wards as an extension of traditional, community nursing services, which tend to support people with long-term conditions.

Instead, it said virtual wards should be used to provide hospital at home services; either ‘step up’ care (to prevent admissions to hospital) or ‘step down’ care (to support earlier discharge).

‘Enablers for success’ also advised ICSs to work in partnership with the independent sector to secure the skills and technology required and outlined how to bid for central funding.

NHSE/I is making £200 million available for virtual wards this year from its Service Development Fund on a match-funded basis. There will be an additional £250 million next year to test out ideas and after that it’s expected that these services will become ‘business as usual’.

The case for finding an expert partner

Virtual wards are an emerging space, which makes this guidance useful. It explains what NHSE/I means by ‘virtual ward’ (and what it doesn’t), sets out some clear expectations around the involvement of the independent sector, and establishes a clear direction of travel.

For HomeLink Healthcare, this is exciting. We were formed seven years ago to deliver Hospital at Home services and already run virtual wards in partnership with commissioners and Trusts in London and the East of England.

Despite this, we are sometimes challenged that NHS organisations can do this themselves. In some cases, of course, they can. However, as the ‘enablers’ guidance makes clear, virtual wards are being set up to provide additional capacity; not to stretch existing resources even more thinly.

Also, nursing acutely ill patients at home requires skill and experience. HomeLink Healthcare’s teams are built around clinicians with a backgrounds in both acute and community care, who are also experienced in handling the challenges of delivering clinical care in the home.

In addition, we have developed some really good reporting capabilities. We can report a suite of KPIs in almost real time, so commissioners have complete transparency about what we are doing and how we are doing it.

More than 6 million people are now waiting for treatment in England, and the list is rising by 100,000 people per month.

More capacity, better outcomes for patients

When the news broke about this big expansion of virtual wards, there was a criticism of the idea in the press and concern from professional bodies.

There was a feeling that patients should be in hospital and that delivering hospital-level care at home poses too great a risk to staff and patients alike.

It’s true that this model is not suitable for everybody. However, we work with our NHS partners to risk assess the patients who are referred to our services.

We know that what HomeLink Healthcare does is valued by patients and relatives, thanks to the feedback we receive through our Patient Experience questionnaire. We also have evidence that our patients can recover faster when they are treated in their own home than they would have done in hospital.

After all, few people want to spend time on a hospital ward. Most would prefer to be in their own environment, as long as they are well-supported.

So, I think that as we see virtual wards rolled out, we will see fewer challenges of this kind – as long as ICSs follow emerging best practice and deliver these new models of care in a safe and effective way.

No going back?

There are some pitfalls that could still derail this new policy. NHSE/I is funding virtual wards for the next two-years, so there is a danger that ICSs could see this as a ‘pilot’ project, when our experience is the best results come from running virtual wards at scale.

ICSs could also see virtual wards as a technology challenge, rather than a service redesign challenge. The ‘enablers’ guidance says virtual ward services should be ‘tech enabled’ – but they cannot be purely technology driven.

As the guidance itself says, virtual wards will only be successful if they combine partnership working, technology, and skilled clinical teams.

The technology required to support virtual wards is developing all the time and giving health and care professionals new telemetry to work with; and from a professional perspective, this is a very appealing way of working. In addition utlising technology can maximise face to face time with patients.

When many health and care organisations are struggling to recruit and retain staff, our teams welcome the challenge of delivering hospital-level care in patients’ homes.

The virtual ward model offers an opportunity for revisioning the healthcare model and I cannot imagine that the health and care system will return to how they were before Covid. There is a big opportunity to rethink how hospitals, community delivery and the patient journey work.

So, over the course of the next six to eight months, I think we will see virtual ward models refined. We will see evaluations conducted, so we create a test and learning environment.

We will see forward-thinking ICSs developing innovative partnerships with independent providers. And we will see that the end point is to deliver virtual wards at scale. NHSE/I has started an evolution, rather than a revolution; but this is the future.

This is the beginning of the change and we need to think about how much further we can go with these models.

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Work with us

Find out more about the process of commissioning HomeLink Healthcare to set up a virtual ward.

Get in touch

To speak to a member of our team about virtual wards, call us on (020) 3137 5370 or contact us. You can tell us about your situation, and we can tell you more about our experience of virtual wards and how we might be able to help you.

NHS restoration and recovery – addressing the capacity challenge across an ICS

Many positive changes have come out of the NHS response to COVID-19. As our health and care systems address the complex challenge of a backlog of elective cases, the approach of Winter and further COVID-19 surges, what can be done to balance these competing demands on systems with limited capacity?

This article considers some timely, grounded and cost-effective options for the sustainable recovery and delivery of core NHS services while retaining the ability to respond to COVID-19.

Getting the right balance between, delivering a Recovery Plan, providing ‘normal’ NHS services and maintaining capacity for local surges in COVID-19 cases.To respond to the challenges in demand, additional capacity and resources are required, combined with new ways of working.

• Expanding the provision of home-based care will free up hospital capacity to help address these pressures, increasing the ability to deliver ‘ordinary’ health and care services.
• Home-based care has the additional advantage of reducing the risk of cross infection between COVID-19 positive and other patients
• Technology – the use of video consultations and remote monitoring are positive changes in models of care delivery which can be further developed to maximise efficiency and resources.

At Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust patients have left hospital early and been safely treated at home – at half the cost of remaining in hospital

 How can the NHS provide for the pent-up demand for health and care services that have been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak?

NHS providers and commissioners need to take steps to provide timely and cost-effective care in excess of ‘pre-COVID-19’ capacity. Actions which could be ready for Winter 2020/21 include:

Optimising inpatient beds promoting safe, effective, efficient patient flow from hospital to home.

• Delivering models of Early Supported Discharge. Moving patients out of the acute setting sooner to complete care at home instead of in hospital.

  • Early supported discharge delivers not only step-down capacity but also effectively step-through capacity. Patients go home at D minus 4 or before, that would have stayed in hospital beds. This is also the case for bridging packages of care. Patients often go home after their discharge day (e.g. D plus 4) whereas a bridging service is able to rapidly move the patient home by providing care on their discharge day.

• Better planning of the route into and out of hospital. Prehabilitation (before surgery) and rehabilitation (post-surgery) reduces the length of stay in hospital and improves outcomes.
• Continue the joint working between NHS and private healthcare to enable changes to be implemented quickly.
• Value for money. Flexible capacity based on the patient at home is more cost efficient than capital spending on less flexible new ward building.

Patients are being rapidly discharged from hospital with a higher level of complexity.

At Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust early supported discharge patients regained independence and avoided the need for hospital readmission through the use of a multi-disciplinary community team.

 Many of the changes to discharge practices, brought in to manage the peak in COVID-19 cases, are being retained for the long-term. As the number of patients discharged to community care returns to pre-COVID levels, appropriate care must be available for patients with longer termand more complex needs.

To address these needs a range of factors should be considered:

  • Care services delivered by multi-disciplinary teams can respond quickly to changes in patient’s acuity (step up and step down).
  • More complex patients require a workforce which has the capability of managing acute care at home. This is significantly different to care traditionally delivered by District Nurses and Community Nurses.
  • Technology enabled remote patient monitoring helps to support patients with a higher level of acuity.
  • A focus on quality and safety must be retained post discharge from hospital.
  • Promote physical and emotional wellbeing. Meeting extra demand for mental health services as a result of the societal and economic impacts of lockdown.
  • Utilise tried and tested models for out of hospital services that are quick to deploy, scalable and ready to meet complex patient needs. Ready for Winter.

As services normalise, how can the positive changes that have taken place as a result of the pandemic be retained?

NHS Hospital Trusts have been working hard with their community partners to improve the integration of services so that patients have a quicker and smoother transfer to the care they need at home, or close to home.

The independent sector has played a significant role in supporting the NHS across all parts of the healthcare system in responding to COVID 19. The relationship between the two sectors has radically changed during this period with great examples of partnership. It is important to ‘lock-in’ these changes for the next phase of the pandemic response and once service provision normalises.
• The 2-hour discharge pathway is a positive step, however, gaps are already emerging as former reasons for delay reappear and delayed discharge lists grow – this demonstrates a need for a quick reaction service to add to existing community capacity
• The rapid adoption of technology should be retained and built on. Mobile patient records, virtual MDT, remote monitoring and analytics of data from wearables should be encouraged
• Lock-in the attitude that there are ‘no acceptable delays in patient discharge. Meaningful measures will allow this to be tracked in acute and community settings.

What is the impact of delayed transfers from hospital to home?

At the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust patients have been discharged as soon as they are medically fit with ‘care bridging’, resulting in a median saving of five bed days per patient.

 Measures for 2020 are not available since the first part of the calendar year however in 2019 almost 60,000 NHS beds were ‘blocked’ every month by delayed transfers of care.

Patients are spending unnecessary nights in a hospital bed because of delays in services which would provide their care at home, or in another setting. Delayed discharge also results in deconditioning for patients, increased risk of infection and ultimately an increased cost of care.

What can be done?

Early supported discharge services and virtual wards offer a scalable way to provide patients with the care they need at home, instead of in hospital – a ‘Hospital at Home’. These services fill in the gap until established community services are available or offer types of home-based care not provided locally. Where already operated by the NHS and their partner organisations these services offer a safe and cost-effective option for patients who welcome the opportunity of an early return to the familiar surroundings of home.

What is Hospital at Home?

Hospital at Home provides a comprehensive ‘secondary care at home’ service, for example: IV therapies, wound care (including) negative pressure therapy, rehabilitation and bridging packages of care. The service recognises the needs of individual patients and considers diversity of the population with respect to cultural needs.

Our Hospital at Home service complements existing services integrating with NHS and local authority community provision. It responds quickly to allow medically stable patients to leave hospital or avoid admission, improving flow and releasing inpatient bed capacity.

• Clinical responsibility remains with patient’s consultant/GP, unless otherwise agreed. Interventions are prescribed by the accountable consultant/GP and delivered at home by the HomeLink Healthcare multi-disciplinary team
• The multi-disciplinary teams comprise of highly skilled and well-trained registered nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and healthcare assistants
• A mobile electronic patient record (EPR) allows all staff involved in a patient’s care to access the care plan and care record in the field via a mobile app
• Telehealth devices can be used to monitor the patient’s vital signs between care visits (24/7)
• All patients have their holistic needs assessed prior to discharge and a clinical baseline established and Care Plan developed. At each visit patient needs are reassessed, changes monitored and recorded in the EPR. Home visits are conducted according to patient needs, including both nursing and therapy observations.
• For each patient flags and indicators for escalation are agreed and contained in the Care Plan identifying when additional medical review or escalation is required. When indicated by clinical need a multi-disciplinary team review will also be undertaken.

NNUH at Home, a hospital at home service created in partnership between HomeLink Healthcare and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has saved over 5,000 bed days, with 100% patient satisfaction’, resulting in a median saving of five bed days per patient.

 

HomeLink Healthcare supports the delivery of core NHS and care services during the pandemic and beyond HomeLink Healthcare is an independent sector organisation partnering with the NHS to deliver home-based care to patients who would otherwise be in hospital, a Hospital at Home. We enable this with our safe, high quality and caring service, supported by technology and our skilled staff, delivering care at the right time in the right place. We are supporting the NHS with a flexible, responsive and agile approach to changing care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Providing home-based care for patients reduced hospital bed nights and avoided admissions, lowering demand on stretched resources and risk of cross infection. We are continuing to work alongside our NHS partners to maximise the utilisation of inpatient beds by caring for patients at home as soon as they are medically suitable for our services.

HomeLink Healthcare are experts in designing, mobilising and delivering Hospital at Home Services. Find out more about the process of commissioning HomeLink Healthcare to set up a Hospital at Home service.

Get in touch

To speak to a member of our team about virtual wards, call us on (020) 3137 5370 or contact us.  You can tell us about your situation, and we can tell you more about our experience of Hospital at Home and how we might be able to help you.

Finalists for Best Healthcare Provider Partnership with the NHS at HSJ Awards

NHS care at home project earns coveted award

Best Healthcare Provider Partnership with the NHSHomeLink Healthcare are delighted to announce that we were shortlisted as finalists at the prestigious Best Healthcare Provider Partnership with the NHS at the HSJ Partnership Awards at the Park Plaza, London.

We were up against some strong competition in this category, and we demonstrated that we delivered clear, and tangible financial benefits for the Trust, whilst providing significant patient outcomes very quickly due to the collaborative nature of our partnership with NHS teams.

So, how did we do it?

The challenge

COVID-19 caused pressures on the NHS, the likes of which had never been seen before.
To prevent delays in critical assessment and to ensure the safety of patients, many NHS Trusts and CCGs followed NHS England guidance to work with independent providers for additional support.

South East London CCG found HomeLink Healthcare through the National Framework of trusted providers, and formed a like-minded partnership, along with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.

The solution

Project aims: To support community services severely impacted by COVID-19; increase capacity and reduce the strain on existing teams.

Working in partnership the teams from HomeLink Healthcare, the CCG and the Trusts devised and implemented a, ‘Care at Home’ pilot project that would support both NHS staff and patients. The size and scope of this project was unprecedented, but with HomeLink’s experience and dedicated teams, a clear communication plan, and a structured approach the project was swiftly mobilised in just four weeks.

Patients were discharged from the service four days earlier than predicted.

With HomeLink’s help, NHS capacity was bolstered by home visits, providing continuation of quality care for patients across the community. HomeLink was able to bridge the gap that had begun to form between Intermediate Care Teams and Community Teams due to the immense and growing pressures faced by each.

The pilot project carried out by HomeLink Healthcare and NHS partners in South East London was deemed so successful it was subsequently rolled out as a full service across three boroughs.

The results

As a result of the collaboration, intermediate care therapy patients were discharged from the service four days earlier than predicted. This had significant cost savings, provided bed days saved for redeployment, cut staffing cost and time, and moreover saw excellent patient outcomes.

Patients were treated and re-enabled at home, which increased independence and reduced the likelihood of ongoing problems or readmittance, thereby freeing up additional NHS resources further down the line.

The valuable extra support during this unprecedented challenge for the NHS eased immediate pressures so community nursing staff could rest and complete annual training, safe in the knowledge that their patients were being well cared for.

Feedback on the service was overwhelmingly positive with the service rated “excellent” by patients.

The collaborative care at home pilot had such impact that HomeLink were shortlisted as finalists for ‘Best Healthcare Provider Partnership with the NHS’ at the prestigious HSJ Partnership Awards.

The success of the service was determined through KPIs and positive outcome measures.

Stakeholder feedback reaffirmed that the service was implemented at pace and brought optimism and confidence that working with an independent provider such as HomeLink Healthcare could provide high-quality home-based care while increasing capacity and improving hospital flow. 

The nature of HomeLink’s streamlined service meant it could be implemented quickly, and swiftly provide real tangible benefits for NHS partners. HomeLink Healthcare is committed to working diligently and collaboratively as an extension of NHS services.

Amanda Lloyd, System Transformation and Change Lead, NHS South East London Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“We recognised we had a window of opportunity to put something in place that would support both our front-line teams and our patients without delaying discharges from our busy acute hospital sites. I am proud that we achieved a safe, responsive and flexible service which meant patients received the ongoing support they needed, and staff felt able to regain some work-life balance after the efforts that Covid-19 had required.”

Jill Ireland, HomeLink Healthcare’s Chief Executive and Clinical Director said:

“The pilot service was so successful that it was commissioned as a full service and subsequently extended across neighbouring boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, helping address inequalities in access to care in these areas.”

“The approach was designed to be flexible and agile so it could evolve throughout the duration of the project. With a ‘test, learn, develop’ ethos, future requirements and resources could be predicted and managed in line with learnings from the initial six weeks.”

“At the heart of the service was the co-creation of the clinical pathways between HomeLink Healthcare and NHS Partners. These were designed to meet patient’s community nursing and therapy needs, reduce waiting times for out of hospital care. The clinical pathways were underpinned by robust governance and escalation process. The success of the service was determined through KPIs and positive outcome measures. These ensured that not only patient care was delivered safely and effectively, but that they were also cost effective.”

“I’m very proud that we were able to contribute to, partner with and provide additional capacity for the NHS at such a particularly critical time.  We hope that by sharing the learnings from the partnership, other services, such as these can be commissioned in other localities for patient benefit.”

“Being shortlisted as a finalist for ‘Best Healthcare Provider Partnership with the NHS’ at the HSJ Partnership Awards is the icing on the cake. A testament to the hard work and collaboration of the whole team and an accolade of which we are very proud.”

Communication was key to successful collaboration, increasing NHS capacity and improving hospital flow.

HomeLink has the time and capacity to spend quality time with patients and deliver thoroughly holistic care.

99% of patients said they would recommend the service to friends and family.

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Find out more about the process of commissioning HomeLink Healthcare.

Get in touch

To speak to a member of our team about hospital at home services, call us on (020) 3137 5370 or contact us. You can tell us about your situation, and we can tell you more about our experience of hospital at home and how we might be able to help you.

Celebrating saving the NHS 10,000 bed days

This is a really good service that should be expanded. It enabled me to come home two weeks earlier which was better for my wellbeing and saved the cost of me being in hospital. The nurses were very friendly and considerate. Patient feedback

It’s important to take the time to mark achievements. Today at HomeLink Healthcare, we’re proud to celebrate a significant landmark with one of our co-created services: saving over 10,000 bed days for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUHT). For the almost 600 patients who have already benefitted from this pioneering service, this means an average of 18 days at home instead of in hospital.

We partnered with NNUHT to create a harmonious service that would relieve in-patient capacity at the hospital and enhance patient choice. Delayed transfers of care and high bed occupancy rates are persistent challenges for much of the NHS. The joint service we developed with Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals – NNUH at Home – combated these problems by creating additional capacity and easing and speeding the flow of patients from hospital to home, while continuing to deliver expert care. Open and positive collaboration is a key element of NNUH at Home, and a reason our partnership has been so successful. The service compliments and integrates with existing systems, rather than replicating them.

NNUH at Home

NNUH at Home

NNUH at Home provides two home-care pathways. ‘Early supported discharge’ offers bridging packages of care so that patients can leave hospital as soon as they are medically fit to do so, supported in the comfort of their homes while longer term health and social care is identified. Under the ‘virtual ward’ pathway, IV therapy is delivered at home by our team, with the patient remaining under the care of the hospital consultant.

The service has enjoyed outstanding patient satisfaction: 100% would recommend to their friends and family. This is the greatest achievement: for us, patients come first, always.

We believe this milestone demonstrates that when the NHS and the private sector join together harmoniously, brilliant feats can be accomplished. On every side, there is a growing recognition of both the strength of these partnerships and the necessity. We hope to continue to play our part in promoting and delivering them – for the benefit of hospitals, healthcare workers, and most importantly, patients.

Patients spent an average of 18 days being treated at home instead of in the hospital.

As Cursty Pepper, Emergency & Urgent Care Performance & Recovery Operations Director at NNUHT and SRO of the service, comments:

“We are delighted to have reached such a positive landmark for this invaluable service that, through collaborative working, has led to us being able to support so many patients return to their own homes sooner, and in turn release bed capacity to support improved flow through the hospital.

“We look forward to continuing on this journey and to further develop the model as part of the Norfolk and Waveney System urgent care programme.”

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Find out more about the process of commissioning HomeLink Healthcare.

Get in touch

To speak to a member of our team about hospital at home services, call us on (020) 3137 5370 or contact us. You can tell us about your situation, and we can tell you more about our experience of hospital at home and how we might be able to help you.

Changing attitudes towards hospital and healthcare means more patients are being treated at home

Covid-19 sent shock waves through Britain’s national health service, exposing fragilities, underlining insecurities, and pushing many hospitals to the brink. The pandemic has both exacerbated existing issues and added fresh challenges.

There are many lessons to be learnt from the pandemic. In healthcare, every answer points to the need to care for more people at home.

Even before coronavirus swept through the UK, the NHS was struggling. Overwhelmed hospital capacities, protracted A&E waits and staff shortages signalled a looming crisis. The NHS was rapidly mobilised in response. Non-urgent care was scaled back, elective surgeries were cancelled. Infection control measures added to mounting capacity challenges: fewer beds spaced further apart.

There are many lessons to be learnt from the pandemic. In healthcare, every answer points to the need to care for more people at home.

Since 2016, HomeLink Healthcare has been collaborating with various partners to combat these challenges. How do we do this?

  • With multidisciplinary teams that provide expert home care
  • By embracing technological advances and digital healthcare
  • By creating bespoke services that complement and ease existing systems.

Changing attitudes towards hospital and healthcare

Attitudes towards healthcare have been changing for some time. Covid-19 has accelerated this change, giving more urgency to desires to be treated at home, and released as early as possible from hospital wards. People,
understandably, fear going to hospital. They are frightened of catching the virus, apprehensive of strict visiting rules, unwilling to contribute to pressure on the NHS. Since the start of the pandemic, A&E visits have plummeted by 50% and half the usual numbers of patients are attending hospital with heart attacks. GP visits have dropped by similarly dramatic proportions.

A report in July by health policy consultants, Incisive Health, found that around half of the British public were reluctant to go to hospital due to fears of catching coronavirus and being a burden on the NHS. Patients of all ages stated they would prefer phone calls to face-to-face appointments for non-urgent medical advice. Their fears are not unfounded. In May 2020 NHS England’s first estimate of the size of the problem found up to 20% of people with Covid-19 at hospital had caught it while at hospital. Data from October shows hospital-acquired infections remain persistently high.

The pandemic is also reshaping how people spend their last days. Most Britons, in usual times, pass away in hospitals and nursing homes; only about 25% at home. Even before the virus, this was beginning to shift in the West. The epidemic has reinforced that trend. Since early June, the percentage of people who have died at home has been 30-40 points above the five-year average in England and Wales.

A holistic view of healthcare: empowering our patients

“This is a really good service that should be expanded. It enabled me to come home two weeks earlier which was better for my well-being and saved the cost of my being in hospital. The nurses were very friendly and considerate.

It’s a well-known fact: people recover better, and faster, at home. Elderly patients, in particular, deteriorate rapidly in hospital, quickly losing functionality and independence, with the added risk of catching infections. Yet myths about home-based care as an alternative to the hospital persist. Are the nurses of the same standard? Is it a second-rate service? How sterile and safe can treatments really be?

In our experience, home-based care isn’t just as good as hospital care – it can be better. Our expert multidisciplinary team – specialist nurses, physiotherapists, – deliver a wrap-around of high-level care to each patient. The quality is reflected in the time and attention we allocate to each visit. Our nurses take the time to settle patients in and get to know them. What the care looks like is different for each patient – depending on their medical, emotional and physical needs. It might be taking their dog for a walk. Cooking them their favourite meal. Chatting to them about their hobbies. And we’ve found our patients recover more easily at home. It makes sense. They can eat their own food; sleep in their own bed; cuddle their partner, hamster, dog. They can be mobile and independent.

Our approval ratings show patients agree. Working with Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust (NNUHFT) on our joint service, NNUHFT at Home, we’ve had outstanding patient satisfaction: 100% would recommend.

Before coronavirus, almost every hospital in the UK was grappling with limited capacity. The pandemic has made this exponentially worse.

In 2019, the average overnight bed occupancy rate was 90% – regularly exceeding 95% in winter – well above the maximum safe levels of 85%. Delayed transfers of care meant almost 60,000 NHS beds were ‘blocked’ every month. These delays cause distress, unnecessarily long hospital stays, increased risks of infection, delays in A&E and elective care cancellations.

At the same time, the total number of NHS England hospital beds has more than halved over the past 30 years – from around 300,000 in 1987/88 to 141,000 in 2018/19 – while the number of patients treated increases year-on-year. The UK has less acute beds per population than many comparable health systems. In November 2019, reports warned that hospital beds were at a record low.

There have been calls for radical transformations to address these capacity challenges. Analysis in May 2020 from health care experts found that over the next few years there will need to be a number of long-term changes to how routine care is delivered and more important roles for the independent sector. Cutting bed occupancy rates by reducing length of stay and increasing capacity elsewhere in the system are recurring themes in government and NHS England initiatives – seen in the NHS Five Year Forward View and the NHS Long Term Plan.

Virtual wards and early supported discharge

At HomeLink Healthcare, we work with hospitals and commissioners to alleviate capacity by ensuring people are not in hospital unless they need to be and smoothing the transition from hospital to home.

Under our early supported discharge programme, patients are moved from acute settings to complete care at home rapidly and safely. HomeLink Healthcare specialists and hospital staff select patients from wards, who are assessed on a number of criteria, including their acuity and home environment. We then work alongside the hospital and local providers to create comprehensive, individualised care plans for each patient.

Patients are assessed within two hours, with swift interventions to avoid hospital admission.

With our Admission Avoidance model, patients are referred by their GPs and an assessment is carried out within two hours of referral, with interventions implemented swiftly to avoid hospital admission.

While care is provided at home by our expert team, the patients remain under the supervision of their hospital consultant or GP – creating virtual wards that can provide capacity at scale. At the end of their acute care pathway, patients are discharged to their GP or on-going community care. Our on-call service provides 24/7 clinical and administrative support and acts as a direct link for patients and carers, hospital consultants and GPs, nurses and therapists. Mobile electronic patient records allow all involved to assess care plans.

We provide complex clinical care in the home, whether it’s wound care, chronic bone infections, drain and catheter care, IV therapies or rehabilitation.

Our services look different for each hospital and care provider: they are bespoke, adding real value and real opportunities for joint working. Rather than replicate, we support and complement existing services.

Looking ahead: taking healthcare into the digital age

A number of positive changes have been made as a result of the NHS response to Covid-19. The pandemic has broken down many preconceptions about both home and virtual care. It has proved to not only be possible, but effective.

“The team have been kind, caring, understanding, sympathetic and professional at all times. Their help and support has been invaluable to me and my wife. Thank you.” Patient feedback.

The health service has been struggling with the application of technologies and digital care for decades. Since the pandemic began, there has been a significant digital shift: the uptake of tech in many hospitals, the normalisation of video-based consultations – unthinkable a year ago. Many acute hospitals have introduced temporary discharge to assess (D2A) processes to rapidly discharge all patients safe to leave and then undertake assessments and build their care plans once at home. The running of general practices has also adapted. Remote triage is now the first port of call: patients are assessed by phone or online before they can see someone in person.

Many of these changes mirror practices we have been honing for years at HomeLink Healthcare – and, we believe, make our services even more crucial. Our first assessments are at home, not at hospital. We have been at the forefront of many technological advances in healthcare: virtual assessments and digital-care are integral parts of our service.

Recently, we have begun to trial the use of telehealth devices alongside our standard monitoring: smart devices that continually measure vital signs, temperature, pulse, oxygen saturation, mobility – meaning we can observe our patients even when we’re not with them, and no longer have to rely solely on patient descriptions of symptoms. This will have far-reaching consequences for the ease and effectiveness of delivering home-based care.

Harmonious partnerships

We can help hospitals make these transitions. Agile and flexible, we’re set up to offer fast, effective solutions wherever they’re needed.

The independent sector has played an important role in supporting the NHS in its response to the pandemic. Covid-19 has underlined the need for community health care, but the infrastructure and investment are not in place to deliver it effectively. Harmonious partnerships between public, private and community are critical in improving patient experiences and the efficiency of the health service. We believe our services are not only beneficial for patients’ rehabilitation and resocialisation but are cost-efficient and cost-effective for the NHS. We deliver great value for money: honesty and transparency are at the core of what we do.

Our offerings fit with many of the NHS goals, including giving people more control over their care; encouraging more collaboration between public, private and community services; and making better use of data and digital technology. We are well positioned to add value, expertise and efficiency in all of these areas.

As the NHS continues to grapple with surges in coronavirus cases, backlogs of elective cases and the additional strains of winter, there has never been a greater need for the ‘hospital at home’. Our services are quick to deploy, scalable and ready to meet complex patient needs.

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Work with us

Find out more about the process of commissioning HomeLink Healthcare to set up a Hospital at Home service.

Get in touch

To speak to a member of our team about our Hospital at Home services, call us on (020) 3137 5370 or contact us. You can tell us about your situation, and we can tell you more about our experience and how we might be able to help you.

Being a good partner to the NHS in times of trouble

If private providers of health services are really to be partners with the NHS then now more than ever they must take some of the strain as the Coronavirus escalates, but how? HomeLink Healthcare have some of the answers.  ambulance outside an A&E hospital area

Whilst it is hard to predict the future effects of the Coronavirus on health services it does now seem certain that significant secondary care bed capacity will need to be generated to cope with the crisis. However, with the current levels of bed occupancy in hospitals already far in excess of what is considered safe this is certainly not providing any headroom for the problems ahead. However as with any risk-based decision making, such as patient discharge, changing the profile either entails increased risk or a change in environment. This is where NHS private partners can help.

Clinically led and owned, HomeLink Healthcare believe that our role is to act as true supporters of NHS organisations. Focusing on helping to solve problems for the Trust, understanding their needs and being a flexible partner, not a contracted supplier. By delivering a range of virtual ward, supported discharge and social care bridging services we free-up hospital beds and improve flow but more importantly, get patients back into their own homes sooner whilst providing a great patient experience. These services do the rights things for patients but with the looming Coronavirus crisis being able to safely free-up hospital beds is no longer a nice to have but a critical service. This means moving beyond commercial agreements and just doing the right thing for the patient, the organisation and the country.

At times of crisis you need trusted partners and common goals; HomeLink Healthcare wants to look after hospital patients in their own homes and the hospitals need those beds.

Risks needs to be shared; HomeLink need to, and can, mobilise swiftly and with flexibility to get patients in their own beds quickly, and do so without recruiting local hospital resources. Trusts need to act decisively, give clear instructions to their new partners and focus on the big picture. At times of crisis you need trusted partners and common goals; HomeLink Healthcare wants to look after hospital patients in their own homes and the hospitals need those beds.

Partnership is about working together and trusting in each other’s intentions and motives and this is why HomeLink Healthcare is indeed a good partner in troubled times.

 

 

Jon Green Advisory Consultant 

To find out more please contact Andy Collett 07984 570844 andy.collett@homelinkhealthcare.co.uk

Discharge to assess with HomeLink Healthcare. Retaining the positive improvements from the pandemic

While Covid-19 has thrown much of society into disarray and caused monumental damage to hospitals, healthcare workers and their patients – in healthcare, there have been some positive changes. One of these is in the altered attitudes toward hospitals and home-based care. Another is in the rapid rollout of crucial services that ease pressure on hospitals and make for better patient experiences. At HomeLink Healthcare, we believe it is essential that these changes remain – pandemic or not.

Aims of Discharge to Assess home-based services

AssessmentAttitudes towards hospitals have been shifting for some time. Historically, both doctors and patients operated under the belief that the patient was best cared for in the hospital. This led to extended stays; the remedy for any illness, a hospital visit; prolonged periods in the ward even after a patient was fit to return home.

Covid-19 was the catalyst of a new way of thinking: avoiding hospital admissions in the first place where possible; getting people home faster in every other case.

For patients, in the heightened context of the pandemic, fear and avoidance of hospitals has become widespread. Numerous statistics underpin this. For overstretched and overburdened healthcare workers, the ability to relieve beds for urgent patients is critical.

The UK government has also taken note. In 2020, Discharge to Assess (D2A) was launched in hospitals across the country. The aim? To discharge all patients who no longer met ‘acute criteria’ as soon as clinically safe to do so, and where possible, to avoid hospital admission to begin with. Assessments take place at home, rather than at hospital. It has been found to not only be possible, but beneficial.

At HomeLink Healthcare, we provide D2A as part of our home-based services, It is an integral part of how we work and our ethos as an organisation.

We always see our patients within 24 hours, ideally on the same day of discharge.

HomeLink’s D2A Service at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn

We were pleased to partner with The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust (QEHKL) to create a harmonious D2A service to improve patient flow in their wards and reduce capacity challenges. Being a small and agile company brings a number of advantages to our partnerships. We are able to set up and deploy supporting services rapidly: our D2A with QEHKL was one of the quickest services we’ve ever delivered, with just a four week mobilisation period until it was fully up and running, using the NHS SBS Patient Discharge Services framework for procurement and contracting was essential to achieve the tight timescales.

For patients, that meant we could get many of them back home for Christmas. Since then, we have rapidly ramped up the service, and it continues to go from strength to strength. We were one of the first homecare providers to flex our services to accept Covid-positive patients. A core element of how we work is as a bridge organisation: not replacing existing systems or provisions but complementing and enhancing the care provided. That means all our services are bespoke, moulded to the needs of the particular hospital. Whether we’re providing increased capacity or improving the efficiency of processes, we align ourselves with existing hospital and community practices as much as possible. And as a small company, we can do that efficiently, cost-effectively and most importantly; safely.

Key to this is open, transparent and supportive communication. At QEHKL, this meant visiting the wards or speaking with the therapists, building rapport with the therapy-leads, frequent team and stakeholder meetings, and giving constructive feedback on how patients were progressing and any issues encountered.

Similarly, we ensured we made positive connections with the community therapy teams; reiterating that we exist to fill the gaps, not replace their services. We recognise the strain they are under and their huge waiting lists – so how could we best complement that service and really place patients at the centre? Now, if the community team has patients that need to be urgently seen and they are unable to support, they send them to us, knowing we can assess them in 24 hour and feedback any recommendations or provide the input required.

In the words of Tim Rees, Professional Lead Occupational Therapist at The Queen Elizabeth:

“HomeLink has been a marvellous asset to our service at the hospital. Their therapy team has worked seamlessly with our therapy teams in the development of the Discharge to Assess model. The communication, expertise and support they have brought to the project has been invaluable. The feedback has always been positive and non-judgemental which has fostered team spirit rather than creating an atmosphere of them and us.”

Holistic home-based care: Putting patients first.

So how does it work?

The Queen Elizabeth community response team identifies medically optimised patients and flags them to our service. We then contact the ward, discuss the discharge plan for the patient and the D2A process is commenced. Our home assessments are undertaken by either a registered nurse or one of our expert physiotherapists.

Our holistic home-based assessments encompass examining the health, wellbeing and social care needs of each individual. From there, we determine what package of care prescription they need – whether it is once, twice, three or four times a day – and then our specialist team delivers that personalised wrap-around care.

Our approach is one of enablement: we work alongside the individual to help them manage their daily personal care. The care we provide varies. It might be washing and dressing, meal preparations, supermarket shopping, medication prompts or provisions. We help them to complete their domestic tasks: supporting our patients to clean their property, look after their pets. The therapy element focuses on reablement and rehab: progressing their mobility, increasing their confidence, and modifying walking aids and equipment. During our assessment, we undertake a rapid review of what existing equipment is in the home and what additional equipment we could put in place – perching stools, kitchen trolleys – to enhance independence and reduce the required package of care.

In one case, an elderly gentleman was referred to our service for therapy only. On post- discharge assessment, we realised he needed a package of care, not just therapy. We initiated morning visits: helping him with his washing, providing physiotherapy, and communicating with the community response team so that they were then able to source a care team to take over his needs.

Patients’ rehabilitation

For patients, one of the consequences of Covid-19 is that they now receive far less rehabilitation on the ward. With the workforce redeployed to focus on acute patients, there is a significant gap in patient therapy provisions. We are seeing more people leaving hospital weaker and more deconditioned – not having received the therapy they would normally have received before the pandemic. This risks serious long-term effects on an individual’s confidence and independence.

In some estimates, for every 24 hours a patient stays in bed they lose 1% of muscle mass.

In others, 10 days of bed rest was found to lead to a 14% reduction in leg and hip muscle strength.

12% reduction in aerobic capacity: equivalent to 10 years of life.

Even with rehabilitation in place, prolonged hospital stays incur damage to patients, particularly the elderly.

We work to bridge that gap and get patients home faster: helping them reach a point where they are safe, independent and at ease – until a community therapist can take over.

Recovering at home:

Better for the patient and the hospital

There are a number of reasons why we believe the Discharge to Assess service is so important – and why discharges should continue to be done in this way post-pandemic. In terms of a hospital’s operational flow, bed flow through the trusts can be reduced and capacity dramatically eased by utilising out of hospital services like ours. This frees up beds to provide space for new acutely unwell patients, it enables hospitals to recommence elective activity, and in using the service for admission avoidance, reduces the burden on the front door. Financially, it’s cost-effective – home services are cheaper to run than an equivalent hospital bed.

Ultimately, and most importantly, is the patient’s care: we believe in putting patients first, always, and to do this, we believe the best place for them to recover is in the comfort of their own home.

As April Thompson, HomeLink’s Head of Therapies, who leads the QEHKL D2A service, says:

“One of the positive things to come out of the pandemic is how services have adapted (at pace) to meet the changes and demands of patients needs. It has strengthened relationships and fostered new ways of working. The pandemic has enabled clinicians to think differently about how to provide care and what can be delivered in the community setting. It comes down to patient care and putting them first. Everybody knows the best place for them to be is in their own home.”

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Work with us

Find out more about the process of commissioning HomeLink Healthcare to set up a Hospital at Home service.

Get in touch

To speak to a member of our team about our Hospital at Home services, call us on (020) 3137 5370 or contact us. You can tell us about your situation, and we can tell you more about our experience and how we might be able to help you.

Enhancing at-home intravenous antibiotic therapy with remote patient monitoring

NNUH at HomeHomeLink Healthcare based in England, UK, provide expert nursing and therapeutic care within the homes of patients who have been referred from NHS or private healthcare providers.

One of HomeLink Healthcare’s NHS partners is Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Both organisations have come together to create NNUH at Home – a multidisciplinary team that delivers clinical care services in the home and other community settings, including nursing homes. The development of this team has allowed clinically stable patients to receive treatment and complete care in the comfort of their own home.

IVAB TherapyInterventions

One of the services provided by this team is the administration of intravenous antibiotics (known as IVABs.) IVABs are administered, as prescribed, to patients at home by a visiting nurse, with treatment lasting from a few days to several weeks or months, depending on the nature of the infection.

By providing this service, the trust can transition IVAB therapy from the hospital to the home, which affords improvements in patient flow and patient satisfaction.

Challenges of in-home IVAB Therapy

Traditionally, a patient’s clinical response to IVAB therapy is monitored by the measurement of vital signs and through blood sample analysis. Within a home environment, a nurse will measure a patient’s vital signs during the same visit as IVAB administration. Depending on the patient’s prescription, this can vary from one to four times per day.

Due to the intermittent nature of vitals recording, hospital clinicians can often delay the discharge of patients receiving IVAB therapy into the community as they are concerned potential health deterioration will not be detected soon enough in the home, resulting in hospital readmission.

Integration of Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)

To help reduce avoidable hospital readmissions and further expedite discharge, NNUH at Home recently incorporated Current Health’s remote patient monitoring (RPM) solution into their at-home IVAB therapy pathway.

The development of NNUH at Home has allowed clinically stable patients to receive treatment and complete care in the comfort of their own home.

With the availability of continuous vitals data and alerts to health deterioration, the solution provides NNUH at Home with the clinical insight they need to safely monitor patients and detect the early signs of infection.
Furthermore, the broad range of parameters measured simultaneously and continuously provides greater contextual data compared to intermittent measurements which can allow more informed decisions and better diagnoses.

This was exemplified recently when one patient receiving IVAB therapy at home, exhibited a high pulse rate and repeatedly had a spiked body temperature in the evening. Ordinally, this would be a cause of concern for the patient’s care team, resulting in hospital readmission. However, following the new pathway, a virtual multidisciplinary team meeting was conducted where vital signs trends and recent blood results were analysed. Using the data, it was established due to the absence of oxygen desaturation and hypotension that this patient was not septic, allowing the patient to complete therapy at home under the supervision of the care team. Utilising data in this way was reassuring both to the hospital team and the patient.

Conclusions

The replication of inpatient monitoring within patients’ homes has provided much reassurance to not only patients but the consultant teams that remain accountable for their care.

It is anticipated that the implementation of this technology-enabled pathway will result in a greater number of IVAB referrals to NNUH at Home which will further improve patient flow, freeing inpatient beds for those requiring acute care.

In partnership with the hospital, the team aim to develop further remote care pathways for COPD and CHF to further maximise bed capacity, increase patient choice and realise cost savings.

How HomeLink Healthcare can help address the mounting problem of elective backlogs in hospitals

What’s currently being done to combat elective backlogs?

Some steps are being taken to address the situation. In the recently released NHS planning guidance for the year ahead, accelerating the restoration of elective care is a core priority: in the words of the national health service, to achieve their goals, they must “do things differently”.

NHS funding has been directed into local systems to attempt to reduce surgical waiting lists, in the form of the Elective Recovery Fund. At HomeLink Healthcare, we agree that things can and should be done differently – and we believe we can utilise our experience and skill sets to deliver services that will ease the backlog challenge, make most effective use of inpatient beds, minimise inpatient stays and promote flow. Facilitating transition towards new approaches to tackle surgical backlog within the healthcare service.

As the BMJ puts it, “waiting lists” must be transformed into “preparation lists”: the time between diagnosis and surgery could be harnessed to get patients prepared for surgery, improving patient experiences and outcomes, hospital flow, and reducing the costs of healthcare. It’s exactly this that we believe should be adopted – and that we have the capacity, skills and workforce to deliver.

How HomeLink Healthcare plays their part in addressing the elective backlog:

Addressing-the-elective-backlog-challenge

Pre-surgery optimisation

“I love HomeLink, they reduced our patient length of stays which resulted in increased bed capacity for our elective surgery patients. Also helped with cancellation due to capacity.” Colleague, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

By using our services for a different part of the patient’s journey, we can help patients get fit for surgery by utilising a range of prehabilitation methods. Generally, this would mean working on enhancing patients’ mobility and general health status. For orthopaedic patients, that would mean pre-surgery physiotherapy to improve agility and mobility, working with breathing exercises to limit the risk of chest infections post-op, and working towards improvements in nutrition. We can also offer pre-op screening – where we visit the home to check the well-being and health perspective of a patient before the trip to the hospital. Monitoring vital signs, observing mobility, checking the general health condition to ensure they are well enough for surgery.

Pre-pandemic, this was usually done in the hospital or within community provisions, but both have been stretched to their limits. In some parts of the country, no community prehabilitation is currently available at all. Regardless, prehabilitation was something primarily for those undertaking radical surgery, and there is a body of evidence that demonstrates it is highly beneficial for all pre-op patients.

Prehabilitation has been shown to reduce postoperative complications by 30-80%, and reduce hospital stays by one or two days. Other studies illustrate reductions in postoperation mortality. If all patients had access to a degree of presurgery optimisation, people would recover better and leave hospital earlier – alleviating both hospital capacities and surgical waiting lists.

Virtual ward and early supported discharge

Virtual ward and early supported discharge are services we have been honing and delivering for many years at HomeLink Healthcare. We have multiple successful, harmonious partnerships with NHS Trusts in the UK where we create added capacity by freeing up space in the hospital. In terms of the elective backlog challenge, this equates to more space in hospitals for other patients to get in and have their operations.

Once patients have had surgery, we support them to come home sooner than they normally would and continue to deliver safe care in their homes. How do we do this? Under our Discharge to Assess service, we identify patients that are medically fit to leave hospital, speed up their transition home and undertake their assessments and package of care there. With our Virtual Wards, patients remain under the care of both the hospital consultant and members of our team, while receiving a wraparound of home-based care from our experts.

HomeLink

This method is not only possible but effective – and is one we are already delivering across the country. In one of our co-created programmes,

There is a wealth of evidence that demonstrates a patient can safely return home three days or even 24 hours after an operation. The only issue is that the community capacity is not in place to facilitate it.

Looking forward: change is both possible and beneficial

The problems are well-documented. There are solutions and the evidence to support them. Covid-19 illustrated how rapidly practices and behaviours can change on a wide-scale. Now that the virus is slowly being wrangled back under control, healthcare should not retreat to past practices, but embrace the new ways of working and the light that has been shone on what needs to be done differently.

How can my Trust or health system find out how much could be gained by the adoption of these pre and post-surgery practices? HomeLink Healthcare will provide a free assessment of your organisation’s ability to improve patient flow through prehabilitation and Virtual Ward/Early Supported Discharge, based on real world experience in the NHS. To find out how to get started please click here to get in touch with us today.

Got a question? Contact us on (020) 3137 5370

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