Recruitment in Norfolk

Award-winning hospital at home service provider is looking for Nurses, Physiotherapists and  Healthcare Support Workers in Norfolk.  

– Do you want to work for an award winning, clinically led, patient-centric organisation?

– Do you want to feel truly valued in your work?

– Do you want to spend quality time with patients and make a real difference?  

At HomeLink Healthcare we offer the above and much more! Find out more below and join us at one of our recruitment events in Kings Lynn on Friday 24th March or Norwich on Thursday 30th March.  

Who are HomeLink Healthcare? 

HomeLink Healthcare is an award-winning provider of Hospital at Home services. Our teams deliver multi-disciplinary care to people in their own homes.  We believe that every patient should have the choice to be treated in their own home, rather than in hospital when it is clinically safe to do so.  

Our work in partnership with the NHS increases hospital capacity, improves patient flow, reduces delayed discharges and delivers great patient outcomes.   

We’ve been delivering Hospital at Home pathways across Norfolk and Waveney since 2016.  

  • 98% of patients would highly recommend us. 
  • 100% NHS partner satisfaction (responses between July 2022 & Jan 2023). 
  •  Our work across Norfolk and Waveney has been shortlisted for a 2023 HSJ Partnership Award.  

Why our staff want to work for HomeLink Healthcare 

"It is the best place I have ever worked"
- Elaine, Community Nurse

We have worked hard to develop an open and welcoming culture where everyone is valued and rewarded for the part they play in delivering high quality patient care.  

  • We had 98% staff retention between 2021 and 2022. 
  • We have 86% staff satisfaction compared to 76% in other organisations (Happiness Index 2022).
  • A minimum of 45 minutes with the patient on each visit with an average of 5 visits per shift. 
  • We welcome flexible working. 
  • We encourage career development and rotation between different services. 

We’re hiring: join our team! 

"It is all about quality rather than quantity of work"
- Michele, Healthcare Assistant

We are looking for exceptional clinical staff to join our growing team. We know that the quality, compassion and commitment of our teams is essential to delivering high-quality care and producing excellent patient outcomes. Whether you are a Nurse, a Physiotherapist or a Healthcare Support Worker, if you work with us you will be giving people exceptional clinical care at home. 

Attend one of our recruitment events 

  • King’s Lynn: Friday 24th March

Drop in at any time between 1.30 and 7pm at The Globe Hotel, Tuesday Market Place, King’s Lynn, PE30 1EZ.

  • Norwich: Thursday 30th March

Drop in at any time between 1.30 and 7pm at The Forum, Millennium Plain, Norwich, NR2 1TF.

Can’t attend our event? View our job advertisements and apply directly 

"We value honesty, trust and transparency. Our staff really feel this"
- April, Head of Clinical & Operational Services

Job advertisement can be found here:  

Alternatively you can email us with your enquiry at careers@homelinkhealthcare.co.uk 

Or  

Please call our Clinical Recruiter, Gretchen Lister-McWilliam, on 07399 550249 for an informal discussion to find out more  

Tell your friends and colleagues 

If you have any friends or colleagues that you think may be interested in working for HomeLink Healthcare please share this page with them!  

Recruitment in High Wycombe and Slough

HomeLink Healthcare, the specialist Hospital at Home service provider, is looking for Nurses and Healthcare Support Workers in High Wycombe, Slough and surrounding areas to join our team.

– Do you want to work for a clinically-led, patient-centric organisation?

– Do you want to feel truly valued in your work?

– Do you want to spend quality time with patients and make a real difference?  

At HomeLink Healthcare we offer the above and much more! Find out more below and join us at one of our recruitment events in in High Wycombe and Slough on 5th and 6th June.

Who are HomeLink Healthcare? 

HomeLink Healthcare is a specialist provider of Hospital at Home services. Our teams deliver multi-disciplinary care to people in their own homes.  We believe that every patient should have the choice to be treated in their own home, rather than in hospital when it is clinically safe to do so.  

Our work in partnership with the NHS increases hospital capacity, improves patient flow, reduces delayed discharges and delivers great patient outcomes.   

We’ve been delivering Hospital at Home and virtual ward services in since 2016 and now work across the country.

  • 98% of patients would highly recommend us.
  • 100% NHS partner satisfaction (2022-2023).
  • We have a CQC rating of Good.

Why our staff want to work for HomeLink Healthcare 

"It is the best place I have ever worked"
- Elaine, Community Nurse

We have worked hard to develop an open and welcoming culture where everyone is valued and rewarded for the part they play in delivering high quality patient care.  

  • We had 98% staff retention between 2021 and 2022. 
  • We have 86% staff satisfaction compared to 76% in other organisations (Happiness Index 2022).
  • A minimum of 45 minutes with the patient on each visit with an average of 5 visits per shift. 
  • We welcome flexible working. 
  • We encourage career development and rotation between different services. 

We’re hiring: join our team! 

"It is all about quality rather than quantity of work"
- Michele, Healthcare Assistant

We are looking for exceptional clinical staff to join our growing team. We know that the quality, compassion and commitment of our teams is essential to delivering high-quality care and producing excellent patient outcomes. Whether you are a Nurse or a Healthcare Support Worker, if you work with us you will be giving people exceptional clinical care at home. 

Attend one of our recruitment events at the following venues, dates and times:

Can’t attend our event? View our job advertisements and apply directly 

"We value honesty, trust and transparency. Our staff really feel this"
- April, Head of Clinical & Operational Services

Job advertisement can be found here:  

Alternatively you can email us with your enquiry at careers@homelinkhealthcare.co.uk 

Or  

Please call our Clinical Recruiter, Gretchen Lister-McWilliam, on 07399 550249 for an informal discussion to find out more  

Tell your friends and colleagues 

If you have any friends or colleagues that you think may be interested in working for HomeLink Healthcare please share this page with them!  

2023 staff survey delivers excellent results with 84% staff engagement

Our 2023 staff survey showed an average staff engagement level of 84%. This is 6% higher than all organisations using the same index and 15% higher than NHS staff’s ‘enthusiasm about their job’ in 2022. 

HomeLink Healthcare use the Happiness Index to measure staff happiness and engagement. A part of this involves sending a detailed survey out to all staff members once a year. The results of our 2023 survey staff were excellent, with a score of 8.5 (85 percent) for ‘happiness’ and 8.4 (84 percent) for engagement.  

 At HomeLink Healthcare we live by our values: Compassion, Commitment to Quality Care, and Collaboration. We understand that having an engaged workforce is fundamental to delivering on these values, providing a positive patient experience and satisfying our clients.   

The word cloud below shows the words that were most frequently used in staff feedback.  

The Happiness Index is used by organisations across a wide range of sectors. Our average score is 6 percentage points above the average of all organisations using the index (7.8 or 78 percent).  

The table below is from the NHS Staff Survey  and shows that average staff engagements for nurses and healthcare assistants was 69 per cent in 2022.  

Whilst we are very pleased with the results we recognise that there is always room for improvement. Over the coming weeks each line manager will be discussing the results with their teams to look at where further improvements can be made. In addition every member of our Senior Leadership Team have made a commitment to further support our staff engagement. For example Jill Ireland, Chief Executive Offer has said: “I commit to leading the organisation that has a culture within which opportunities for personal growth, development, and valuing each and every person is at the heart of everything we do.”Jill Ireland, Chief Executive Officer  

Get in touch 

To speak to a member of our team about our services, call us on (020) 3137 5370 or contact us. 

Our commitment to Environmental and Social Governance (ESG)

HomeLink Healthcare have joined forces with providers across the independent healthcare sector in committing to a new pledge to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by 2030.

World Environment DayAll staff are involved in the process

In the lead up to World Environment Day this year, HomeLink Healthcare’s Environmental and Social Committee ran a competition for colleagues to submit ideas that HomeLink Healthcare could implement to work towards achieving our aim of net zero emissions, for example, by reducing our carbon footprint or eliminating single use plastics.​​​​​​​

In addition to an environmentally friendly prize for the winner, HomeLink Healthcare has arranged for a tree to be planted with the National Trust on behalf of every colleague that submitted an idea.

Implementing new ideas

Almost 50 ideas have all been submitted to the relevant departments for future consideration. The winning idea, that can be implemented immediately and will start a trend in our reduction of single-use plastics, was submitted by Peta Kerrigan, Associate Clinical Lead, Paget At Home, James Paget Hospital.

We are committed to playing our role in tackling the climate change emergency.

Peta suggested that we buy-in biodegradable aprons instead of single-use plastic aprons.

The judges from our Social and Environmental Committee felt that this initiative could be easily implemented and adopted in other areas. Surprisingly, biodegradable aprons are cheaper than plastic aprons, so this is cost-effective at the same time. This will be implemented in locations where we are responsible for providing our own PPE.

HomeLink Healthcare is committed to building and maintaining a sustainable, environmentally friendly business and continues to regularly encourage ideas and feedback from colleagues on this topic.

5 minutes with HomeLink Healthcare Co-Founder Dr. David Lomax, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

This latest instalment in a series of articles giving insight into how HomeLink Healthcare works behind the scenes, asks our Co-Founder and Non-Executive Director Dr. David Lomax about his role within the company, the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the opportunities that exist within the wider industry.

Tell us about your experience in the sector and how that has helped you develop the services offered by HomeLink Healthcare.

Dr David Lomax

I’ve been in medicine all my life. I went to medical school and qualified as a doctor and then completed my postgraduate training in anaesthesia and intensive care. From there I worked at the College of Anaesthetists in the ‘90s. Today, I remain a consultant at St Mary’s Hospital, part of Imperial NHS Trust.

All of which means that with HomeLink and a similar Hospital at Home organisation I founded previously called Medihome, I’ve had parallel careers for the last 20 years or so, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed because of the variety in brings and the amazing people involved.

In fact, despite my medical experience I always had a slight entrepreneurial spirit and enjoyed the ‘business’ side of things, which is one reason the HomeLink journey has been so rewarding.

Of course, it has been a steep learning curve, but I think everyone on the team – especially those of us with backgrounds in the NHS – have made so much progress in establishing a new healthcare model and ensuring it works. It’s been a fascinating process.

When the pandemic hit in 2020 we were in a position to move quickly to help the NHS and others out.

The healthcare sector has faced significant challenges over the last 18 months – what role has HomeLink Healthcare played during the pandemic?

The introduction of the care in the home model, pre-Covid, meant that when the pandemic hit in 2020 we were in a position to move quickly to help the NHS and others out.

Of course, the terrible impact of COVID-19 presented challenges for everyone, but as we’ve moved towards what we all hope will be the end of the virus peak, there’s a huge opportunity for us to work with the NHS to help free up vital hospital beds and treat patients safely in their own home.

This has the double effect of helping to reduce the spread of the virus, while helping to avoid hospital readmissions – or admission to hospital at all. That objective is now key within the NHS as it looks to manage the backlog treatments, particularly elective surgeries.

Tell us about your own role at HomeLink Healthcare and you day-to-day responsibilities.

I’m one of the Founders of HomeLink Healthcare, along with a few other ex-colleagues from our previous company Medihome, who passionately believed in the Hospital at Home model when we opened for business in 2016. We took all of our learnings from our time at Medihome and pulled our experiences together to create the best framework of Hospital at Home care possible at Homelink.

I brought in one of the early investors and to begin with was very hands-on, with lots of brainstorming and idea generation while we got our leadership team in place. Once our CEO & Clinical Director Jill Ireland was on board everything just took off, quickly attracting other investors and a board, at which point I stepped back from day-to-day operations.

Today, I’m a Non-Executive Director at HomeLink, supporting our highly-experienced Chairman and management team as and when required. It’s been a great honour to have been there at the start and to have seen the company and its people grow so quickly.

What are the main healthcare trends you expect to see in 2021/22?

Quite simply, I think we’re going to be left with huge waiting lists in the NHS as a result of COVID-19, so the priority is going to be working with our commissioners to help them find ways to work through that efficiently.

And while we’re doing that everyone will need to work hard to keep the virus itself at bay – the vaccination programme has been amazing in that respect and gives us all a solid platform to build on.

Part of the process involves keeping patients at home rather than in a hospital and that’s where our team can really make a difference – monitoring patients with chronic health conditions and people who are recovering post-COVID. The key is to avoid patients getting worse, spotting any deterioration very early and initiating treatment at home accordingly.

Tell us about the role technology can play in caring for patients at home.

Embracing technology to assist with care in the home is absolutely the way the world is moving, so we’re working hard to develop solutions in that area, with a few techniques already deployed successfully.

And then, of course, there are the great strides that are being made with artificial intelligence (AI), particularly when it comes to patient wearables and monitoring technology. That will help us both now and in the future.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

I would hope that the clinical tail of the pandemic will be gone, or at least disappearing into the distance. That said, the virus is going to affect individuals for a long time to come, particularly psychologically in terms of social distancing and concern over transmission, even with vaccines circulating. It’s going to change some people’s social behaviour within the community in that respect.

However, I think as far as the care we’ll be providing in the long term, the government agrees that the future of the NHS is home care, especially when it comes to improving social care.

I also think there’ll be opportunities to offer patients more types of treatments in the home, whether that’s administering drugs to treat chronic lung disease, or providing renal dialysis. Those are the kind of things we’re actively talking about and working on.

And don’t forget, technology will be at another level in five years time. The whole point, I think, is the way care is delivered is going to change. The GP’s role is going to change over the next decade, too, if you look at what Babylon is doing to help doctors consult with patients remotely via an app without a surgery visit.

I also think there’ll be opportunities to offer patients more types of treatments in the home, whether that’s administering drugs to treat chronic lung disease, or providing renal dialysis. Those are the kind of things we’re actively talking about and working on.

Which person in, or associated with, the industry would you most like to meet?

I’d like to meet Dr Ali Parsa at Babylon. I just like the way he innovates and the way he thinks is quite interesting. There’s probably a connection we could have as well in terms of what both our companies are trying to achieve. I’d also like to meet the new head of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard, to discuss many of the positive things we’ve been talking about here.

What is the most exciting thing about your job?

I just find it really exciting to see and interact with the people we’ve got working with us at HomeLink Healthcare – it’s such a great team, and I think all the frontline professionals who work for us enjoy it, too.

And the fact we’re supporting the NHS and doing such a good job helping our patients too is very rewarding.

5 minutes with Jill Ireland, Chief Executive and Clinical Director

This first instalment in a series of articles giving insight into how HomeLink Healthcare works behind the scenes, asks our CEO & Clinical Director Jill Ireland about her role within the company, the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the opportunities that exist within the wider industry.

Tell us about your role at HomeLink Healthcare and your day-to-day responsibilities. 

Jill IrelandI’m the CEO and Clinical Director, in addition to being one of the founding members of the organisation. Our aim for HomeLink Healthcare is to work in partnership with the NHS and to transform models of ‘hospital at home’ care

Day-to-day I have overall responsibility for the strategic direction, operational delivery clinical quality and safety within the organisation. At the core of our company is a clinical heartbeat – we are, above all, a clinically-led organisation.

The healthcare sector has faced significant challenges over the last 18 months – what role has HomeLink Healthcare played during the pandemic?

One of the things we really pride ourselves as an organisation is being agile and responsive, which helps us work with our NHS commissioners in the most collaborative of ways. That stood us in good stead when COVID struck, especially in the early days when few people understood what was happening or what the impact might be.

For example, within a couple of weeks of the first lockdown, HomeLink Healthcare set up a COVID screening service in the East of England. Under normal circumstances, such a service would have taken several months to deliver. One of the impacts of COVID on the NHS and HomeLink Healthcare as part of the independent sector, has been the ability to stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of adversity.

What are the biggest opportunities in nursing and therapeutic care in the home sector as we move into a post-COVID world

I can certainly foresee a landscape where responsibility around health and illness rests more with the individual.

It goes without saying that COVID has impacted negatively on the lives of so many, but the pandemic has also been a catalyst for change. Within healthcare we’ve seen technology embraced like never before, particularly in the realm of wearable devices, remote monitoring with the NHS itself adapting almost overnight to new ways of working that had been in the pipeline for many years.

Some of those changes, I think, will stay with us. The use of technology for things like virtual patient visits and to support more ‘hospital at home’ type services is being driven by a growing realisation that you can manage patients with sub-acute needs within the community. This maximises the utilisation of a reduced hospital bed base.

From a patient experience perspective, that’s extremely positive news. And I can see that trend towards ‘at home’ services continuing.

And what are the biggest challenges in nursing and therapeutic care as we move into a post-COVID world?

I think the greatest challenge the NHS faces now is the growing backlog of patients needing elective surgery and that’s really a big problem for the NHS to be facing alongside ongoing concerns about possible new COVID variants and how they might impact patient care needs.

In addition, we’re very aware that many patients have experienced deterioration in health due to the length of time they’ve needed to wait for surgery during the pandemic, to the point where they’re no longer fit for the procedure. So, we’re doing some work looking at pre-habilitation and pre-surgical optimisation, which involves putting interventions in place for patients, particularly around therapies, so that an individuals physical condition is maintained or improved before they get into hospital.

And then, once the surgery is complete, we can move to support those patients in their recovery at home, rather than in hospital. That’s where our services can really step in and help maximise flow through those hospital inpatient beds.

Tell us about your experience in the sector and how that has helped you develop the services offered by HomeLink Healthcare.

Two-thirds of my career was spent working exclusively within the NHS, where I’ve always felt that there was an opportunity to do things differently. The NHS is a huge organisation, so facilitating and enabling change is like turning an oil tanker around. It’s difficult, but it can be done, which was one of the reasons why I stepped outside of the NHS to help facilitate change from a different perspective.

As a clinician and as a leader I always strive to provide the best care and patient experience possible.

The impact of COVID also means there’s now more acceptance of what the independent sector can offer the NHS in terms of support. A lot that comes down to trust and the realisation that an independent company can indeed work with the NHS and achieve great things as a partnership.

What kind of skills and knowledge are important for healthcare professionals with ambitions to forge a career in nursing and therapeutic care in the home?

Our existing clinical workforce is comprised of registered nurses, physiotherapists, and healthcare support workers. All our practitioners have a minimum of three years’ post-registration experience, which means we have very competent clinicians with a great balance of acute hospital and community expertise. The care that we deliver in our hospital at home services is necessarily a blend of both.

Organisationally, we work on a regional footprint, with practitioners rotating around different sites depending on patient geography.

From a logistics perspective, our planning systems ensure we can optimise patient facing time, while minimising travel time for staff. This geographical approach also means that practitioners, all of whom are based from home, can build up experience of working with different people at different hospitals, which is quite unusual and dynamic.

Our aim is to work in partnership with the NHS and to transform models of ‘hospital at home’ care.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

Regardless of COVID, we still have wider epidemiological changes to manage. We’re dealing with an ageing population, who are living longer with chronic disease. We have technology and new treatments coming onboard, but finite NHS resources. This means that, operationally, something needs to change. There isn’t a magic money tree to help the NHS cope with a growing demand that is becoming more and more expensive to deliver.

As a result, I think we’ll see a push towards more supported patient self-management. If you have diabetes, for example, there might be less reliance on GP visits when it comes to ongoing monitoring, I can certainly foresee a landscape where responsibility around health and illness rests more with the individual.

Who has had the most influence on your career?

Undoubtedly the most influential people on my career were two ward sisters who I worked with just after I qualified.

They were inspirational women, leaders of their time and brilliant teachers. We all need great mentors.

Which person in, or associated with, the industry would you most like to meet?

NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard. With my clinical head and heart, I would love to discuss how we can do things differently in healthcare –we’re on the cusp of doing just that. I would encourage her not to be afraid of accelerating change by embracing alternative ways of delivering patient-centred care that doesn’t necessarily require building new hospitals. I would encourage her to consider ‘Hospital without Walls’.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Everything. I’m at the point in my career where I’ve had lots of experience from many different roles working within the NHS. For me, my current role is an opportunity to put all of that learning together to create something new. As a team at HomeLink Healthcare, we are totally committed to doing the right thing for patients, harnessing our clinical heartbeat to make change happen. I love it.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Undoubtedly, to be true to yourself and to not be afraid to take risks. Don’t let the fear hold you back.

5 minutes with April Thompson, Head of Clinical and Operational Services

In this latest instalment in a series of articles giving insight into how HomeLink Healthcare works behind the scenes, we ask our Head of Clinical and Operational Services, April Thompson, about her role within the company, the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the opportunities for Hospital at Home services that exist within the wider industry.

Tell us about your role at HomeLink Healthcare and your day-to-day responsibilities.

April_Thompson

I’m the Head of Clinical and Operational Services for HomeLink, which encompasses the management and recruitment responsibility for all therapy staff within the company or for anyone who may join us, plus overseeing professional health work groups.

In addition to that, I help look after one of the services we’re delivering at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, providing sub-acute therapy to patients in their own home. Day-to-day I’m responsible for all the overall running of the project which includes the scheduling of the visits, and clinical support for the staff who are delivering care as part of the project.

Most recently, I’ve also assumed management responsibilities for CQC as part of HomeLink, providing support and and general oversight of all the services we provide to patients.

I think a huge positive of working at HomeLink is that you can get involved in several activity streams across the company and, in doing so, help and support others.

The healthcare sector has faced significant challenges over the last 18 months – what role has HomeLink Healthcare played during the pandemic?

In the early days of COVID-19 we were probably a lot more reactive in terms of the services we were supporting NHS trusts with. But now we have an opportunity to think differently about how we can take some of the changes and adaptations that occurred during that time and apply them going forward to create both permanent and new solutions.

Clearly the pandemic compelled everyone, including HomeLink, to start using Teams and Zoom to help with internal communication, but it has greatly advanced progress when it comes to the remote monitoring of patients.

For us, that means using techniques like using remote tele-monitoring for virtual visits with patients who have the capability to support that in the home. Such methods also help to cut through some of the red tape that was present pre-COVID-19. Now there’s more emphasis on collaborative working between stakeholders to speed up the provision of patient care in the home environment.

Overall, there have been some hugely positive changes to working practices over the last 18 months when it comes to hospital at home services, and hopefully some of those will be sustained going forward. There are now undoubtedly significant backlogs in certain areas of the NHS as a result of COVID-19 delaying planned treatments. I’d like to think what we’ve learned can help clear a path back to normality and help the NHS to get back on its feet. There are certainly more challenges yet to come on that front.

Tell us about your experience in the sector and how that has helped you develop the services offered by HomeLink Healthcare.

Applying the learnings from that acute setting into my current role at HomeLink means I can work with our NHS Commissioners on improving patient flow.

I have quite broad clinical experience. I’m a physiotherapist by profession, working primarily in respiratory care before I joined HomeLink Healthcare, and that remains my main interest in terms of practical skills.

I was very much ‘on the ground’ in previous roles, before stepping into research with secondments focused on how we can improve the care given to patients in respiratory settings, such as looking at ventilator equipment and NIV (Non-Invasive Ventilation). After that, I joined another company in the hospital at home sector as an operational lead for one of its acute services, including deploying a virtual model for subacute care for people in the community.

I then returned to the NHS in a senior role as Head of Therapies in an acute hospital Trust. In that role I managed more than 120 staff. I would work alongside the bed management team to help expedite patient discharges safely, in order to free up hospital beds and help patient flow through the Trust.

That role gave me a fantastic grounding in terms of understanding operational pressures in the NHS and the impact a lack of bed space can have in the community – it really helped me grasp what’s required for both efficient bed management and patient safety.

Applying the learnings from that acute setting into my current role at HomeLink means I can work with our NHS commissioners on improving patient flow, analysing the different care pathways, and facing up to the challenges presented from an acute and community setting.

What is the biggest priority for the industry in 2021/22?

At HomeLink, we’re focused on providing community-based, domiciliary, subacute therapies. I think the impact of COVID-19 means we’re seeing patients coming home from hospital with far more complex needs.

We also have several cohorts of patient types. Many patients that were admitted to hospital during the pandemic (and in normal times) have come out weaker and more deconditioned, primarily because they haven’t had much inpatient therapy due to stretched resources.

There are also patients who have been indirectly affected by COVID-19 by having their treatment interrupted and physio delayed. Then we have patients who are still awaiting elective surgeries and who need therapeutic input before procedures are carried out to give them a better outcome afterwards.

So, all of that together means a holistic approach to hospital at home services is now very much required.

What kind of skills and knowledge are important for healthcare professionals with ambitions to forge a career in nursing and therapeutic care in the home?

I’m directly involved in recruitment for the therapy staff and healthcare support workers when required. At the very top line, we’re creating a culture of ‘re-ablement’ and supporting patients to become more independent. The role of a health care support worker has changed recently – it’s no longer so much a case of doing things for patients, but instead engaging them to take an active part in their recovery and care plans.

Because there’s been such an increase in demand for social care, and different packages of care, it has become more important to try and give patients that bit of independence to help themselves. Not just for their own quality-of-life, but also to ensure that resource is available to help others who truly do need extra levels of at home care.

The impact of COVID-19 means we’re seeing patients coming home from hospital with far more complex needs.

We’re very much looking to recruit qualified staff with a broad range of skills and experiences. Having acute hospital experience is probably a key requirement – that helps staff identify patients at home who may be deteriorating, who may not be doing quite so well, or who need an advocate. Picking up on those signs as early as we can is essential to prevent re-admissions. Ultimately, the main thing we want our staff to do is to put patients first.

What kind of skills and knowledge are important for healthcare professionals with ambitions to forge a career in nursing and therapeutic care in the home?

We’re on the lookout for people with specific skillsets, who may have worked in a hospital previously but are also comfortable working remotely with people in their own homes, without all the backup you would find on a ward, like a crash trolley and senior doctors or consultants. It’s a different requirement and a different mentality – being able to function in tricky situations without being phased or panicked is crucial.

That said, as a values-based organisation, if we find the right person without the necessary ‘in the home’ experience, we can help them adjust to that new environment and then teach them new skills through mentoring and training.

In fact, training and mentoring are extremely important when it comes to our clinical staff. HomeLink Healthcare offers quite a range of services in what we call a ‘package of care’ that can vary greatly by individual patient. They might require physiotherapy. They might need help getting back to their baselines, which is really important for people who have spent a prolonged period in a hospital bed as people lose muscle mass and a lot of the time personal grooming goes out of the window. Those are things we can help put right once the patient is home.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on nursing and therapeutic care in the home this coming year?

When you look at the NHS in terms of its priorities for the next year or two, I think it’s overwhelmingly about getting things back up and running. For example, delayed cancer treatments and all the pathways that have been put on hold because of the pandemic, plus the return of elective surgery. All those elements need to be restarted and I don’t necessarily think the way in which it was running before is how it’s going to look going forward.

So again, we need to think in terms of what we can do pre-admission to help patients to achieve the best outcomes. For example, where patients would normally come into hospital to have all their pre-appointments and assessments completed before surgery, can those be delivered at home using technology and out of hospital services?

We’ve worked on pilot projects before using technology to remotely monitor patient vital signs in the home setting. That includes a live dashboard, looking at patient respiration rates, saturation levels, blood pressure, temperature and more. It was a challenge to implement but showed a clear way forward in terms of what’s possible.

Ultimately, I think adopting a blended approach of remote monitoring where appropriate, plus having community nurses visiting patients at home to review in person and quantify data, will really help build confidence in the use of technology.

We’re continually assessing how we can use technology to better provision the care that we provide and the efficiencies that are then created. The goal is always to make sure care is delivered on time, at the right time, in the right place and with the right staff.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

Hopefully in five years’ time technology will mean we’re able to offer new models and services that right now we just can’t envisage.

I think we’ll probably still be talking about hospital pressures and bed flow, plus reflecting on COVID-19 and its impact. Hopefully in five years’ time technology will mean we’re able to offer new models and services that right now we just can’t envisage – things can change so quickly given the pace that digital advancements take place.

Which person in, or associated with, the industry would you most like to meet?

Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England. He’s obviously working clinically, but he’s also working in government and supporting our pathway through COVID-19. I think it would just be nice to chat to him about how he’s managing those pressures, on both a professional and personal level.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the sector since you began working within it?

Just how quickly we can develop a new service, ramp recruitment and become operational. On one service HomeLink was able to mobilise and deliver care to patients within just four weeks. And I think that ability boils down to brilliant people and being able to cut out red tape. And during the pandemic it’s been a real eye-opener to see how quickly we can implement change and put a new service into place.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Undoubtedly working with the people who use our services. No day is ever the same, we’re constantly faced with new challenges and opportunities, and compelled to discover ways we can further improve the care we offer to patients. There’s always room for improvement.

And what’s the most challenging?

The need to be reactive, because things can change very quickly in healthcare, as we’ve seen over the last 18 months.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Be honest. Be honest with your colleagues. Be honest with your patients. Be honest with yourself if things are getting too much, too hard, or if you need that extra bit of support.

5 minutes with Jane Tobin, Chief Clinical Officer

In this latest instalment in a series of articles giving insight into how HomeLink Healthcare works behind the scenes, we ask our Chief Clinical Officer Jane Tobin about her role within the company, the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the opportunities that exist within the wider industry.

Tell us about your role at HomeLink Healthcare and your day-to-day responsibilities.

Jane_Tobin

My official title is Chief Clinical Officer and I’ve been with HomeLink since 2016, having worked with our CEO Jill Ireland previously in another healthcare company. My role is strategic and focused on establishing the clinical roadmaps for our services once they’re up and running: making sure our teams run effectively; that we have the right skills; planning recruitment; and onboarding new starters. There’s naturally an element of training and development too – we encourage our staff to grow and learn new skills along with the company itself.

My background is very much entrenched in community-based healthcare. I started my career as a District Nurse working mostly in and around London, which is where a lot of our teams are based now. In fact, when I was a District Nurse, the role was very much about combining health and social care. While those elements have since been separated within the NHS, it is essentially how we work here at HomeLink today, which I enjoy very much.

The healthcare sector has faced significant challenges over the last 18 months – what role has HomeLink Healthcare played during the pandemic?

The impact of the pandemic has been multifaceted at HomeLink, like at most organisations, encompassing both emotional and practical considerations. Operationally, we were quite a dispersed group of people pre-COVID, working in different parts of the country. But, like everyone else, we learned quite quickly that you can meet and collaborate extremely effectively using tools such as Microsoft Teams. That virtual interaction during lockdown has given us back so much more time to focus on the development of services, opposed to travelling up and down motorways to meet with each other physically.

In terms of how the pandemic affected the work we do with our NHS commissioners and patients, our first task very early on was to help set up a COVID testing facility at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Great Yarmouth. However, quite quickly after that we needed to prepare for the longer-term implications of COVID on patients, including rehabilitation in the home – one of the priorities for the NHS during this time has been to free up hospital beds as fast as possible, which we can absolutely support.

In Southeast London, where we’re working with hospitals right now, we spend a lot of time supporting NHS staff who have worked all the way through the pandemic – particularly district nursing staff who are, quite frankly, exhausted.

This also brings us to the other main impact of COVID within the NHS – the growing list of people who weren’t able to visit hospital during the lockdowns and who are now quite sick or in pain as a result. So many routine procedures were put on hold and now the waiting lists for elective surgeries are much longer than before. At HomeLink we want to help our NHS commissioners manage that backlog by helping them move people out of hospital and back home as quickly as medically possible. Even now some people are scared of going into hospital, so we could be living with the impact of delayed treatments for a long time to come. Luckily there are solutions at hand.

What are the biggest opportunities in nursing and therapeutic care in the home sector as we move into a post-COVID world?

Patients shouldn’t be spending any more time in hospital than they must.

It sounds counter intuitive, but the pandemic has actually been a catalyst for a lot of positive change in terms of patient care because the rule books had to be changed. The challenge now is to not immediately fall back into old, bad habits post-COVID.

I think how we are working to care for patients during the pandemic is closer to how we used to work years ago when I was a District Nurse – the health and social care elements very much intertwined. In many ways it’s a natural and obvious thing. This coming together of disciplines also ties into the complementary skill sets within HomeLink’s management structure; Jill’s background is one of oncology and acute care, whereas mine is primary care in the community.

And what are the biggest challenges in nursing and therapeutic care as we move into a post-COVID world?

I think the greatest challenge the NHS faces now is the growing backlog of patients needing elective surgery and that’s really a big problem for the NHS to be facing alongside ongoing concerns about possible new COVID variants and how they might impact patient care needs.

In addition, we’re very aware that many patients have experienced deterioration in health due to the length of time they’ve needed to wait for surgery during the pandemic, to the point where they’re no longer fit for the procedure. So, we’re doing some work looking at pre-habilitation and pre-surgical optimisation, which involves putting interventions in place for patients, particularly around therapies, so that an individuals physical condition is maintained or improved before they get into hospital.

And then, once the surgery is complete, we can move to support those patients in their recovery at home, rather than in hospital. That’s where our services can really step in and help maximise flow through those hospital inpatient beds.

Tell us about your experience in the sector and how that has helped you develop the services offered by HomeLink Healthcare.

As a District Nurse, I was always used to receiving somebody back home and dealing with a lot of unknowns; the way a patient presents in hospital can be very different to how they present in their own home. So, I don’t think anything particularly shocked me in that sense during the pandemic – it was more about how quickly the move towards hospital at home happened.

Also, as a community nurse your skillsets are usually a little broader than hospital-based nurses. You need to be more flexible and work within the parameters of how people live in their homes and accept their treatment. Plus, soft skills are hugely important when it comes to liaising with family members or friends who also may be present in the home environment. There can been unique dynamics and different requirements at play compared to the relatively controlled environment of a ward.

What kind of skills and knowledge are important for healthcare professionals with ambitions to forge a career in nursing and therapeutic care in the home?

We’re on the lookout for people with specific skillsets, who may have worked in a hospital previously but are also comfortable working remotely with people in their own homes, without all the backup you would find on a ward, like a crash trolley and senior doctors or consultants. It’s a different requirement and a different mentality – being able to function in tricky situations without being phased or panicked is crucial.

That said, as a values-based organisation, if we find the right person without the necessary ‘in the home’ experience, we can help them adjust to that new environment and then teach them new skills through mentoring and training.

In fact, training and mentoring are extremely important when it comes to our clinical staff. HomeLink offers quite a range of services in what we call a ‘package of care’ that can vary greatly by individual patient. They might require physiotherapy. They might need help getting back to their baselines, which is really important for people who have spent a prolonged period in a hospital bed as people lose muscle mass and a lot of the time personal grooming goes out of the window. Those are things we can help put right once the patient is home.

What are the main healthcare trends you expect to see in 2021/22?

As we look into 2022 and beyond, I think we’re going to see the NHS require increased levels of district nursing care from the private sector. The impact of COVID and the backlogs on acute and elective surgeries mean hospitals will soon be bulging at the seams if they’re not already.

That means patients shouldn’t be spending any more time in hospital than they must – we should have the resources in place to get them home as soon as possible. That’s particularly true with elective procedures – the hips, knees and things like that. I’m a great believer in admission avoidance, particularly with elderly people, who we should be trying to help and support in the home as much as possible when it comes to physio and other rehab.

Tell us about how technology is driving the work you do at HomeLink Healthcare.

Wearables are going to be key to the evolution of the hospital at home model.

At HomeLink our clinical staff work from iPads when on the move or in a patient’s home, which is all the time. We are already a paperless company. A key tool for us is the Mobizio digital care management system, which allows us to electronically record all patient interactions, encompassing digital care plans and forms, eMAR, family & funder access, automated alerts and visit logs.

The platform gives us access to invaluable real time patient data and, from there, you can layer up digital workflows, such as video calls with doctors while we’re with a patient or submitting images of wounds or injuries for assessment. That’s a huge opportunity to speed up patient care and something that’s obviously in a GP’s or consultant’s interest too. Plus, NHS staff are able to look at our records to gain more insight into an individual patient’s condition. A likely evolution of this we be companies like HomeLink being granted reciprocal access to NHS patient records.

Wearables are going to be key to the evolution of the hospital at home model, whether that’s data gleaned from a patient’s Fitbit device or a patch on their arm that monitors sats, blood pressure, temperature, etc. The first generation of wearables were quite bulky – a bit like wearing a phone and a charger on your arm. But the latest solutions, which we’ve been helping to trial, collect vital signs data via a small pad attached to the arm, with a team monitoring it remotely 24 hours a day in real time, alerting clinical staff as required.

These kinds of technologies give people, who would otherwise spend all their lives in hospital, an opportunity to be at home. Sometimes it isn’t that long before they have to go back in again, but wearables will give the NHS and our own staff the chance to monitor patients closely without them physically being in a hospital bed. And there are huge patient wellbeing and mental health benefits with that approach.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

I’d like to think that by 2025 we’ll see a significant move towards more community-based hospitals, separate from the big sites that offer care for acute illness, and which are very much geared towards deeper integration between health and social care. That might be wishful thinking, because we don’t know what the government’s plans are in that respect, but I think such an approach could help the NHS solve many of the long-term issues it has been trying to deal with, both pre- and post-COVID.

Companies like HomeLink would be able to manage and support that combined health and social care model. We’ve already seen so much progress in the last 20 years – when I was working in rapid response in the 2000s, patients would come into hospital with big swollen knees and stay there for weeks. Now they’re in for treatment and out within days. It’s mind-blowing what is already possible, so with hospital at home treatments that process will get even quicker.

Fundamentally, I think we’ll just be able to have sicker people at home, which means hospital stays and hospital infections will be minimised because, generally, you don’t get so much cross-infection in the home.

Which person in, or associated with, the industry would you most like to meet?

Undoubtedly it would be Jos de Blok, Founder and CEO of Buurtzorg, a Dutch organisation that specialises in neighbourhood nursing. De Blok is a nurse by education and is considered a ‘change agent’ in the Netherlands when it comes to community-based home care, having been motivated back in 2006 to find solutions to many of the same healthcare problems we have in the UK today.

Buurtzorg has succeeded in reducing administrative burden for nurses, improving quality of care and raising work satisfaction for its employees (the company has three times been awarded employer of the year in the Netherlands).

The Buurtzorg model employs very light-touch management, with coaching staff the only layer between De Blok and his nurses. While that approach perhaps will never translate fully to the UK, which has a publicly-funded health system unlike the private structure in the Netherlands, De Blok is something of a guru and many of his ideas can certainly be applied here.

What are the most exciting and challenging things about your job?

The most exciting are the opportunities we’ve been talking about, because I think we are finally on the cusp of moving from the traditional IV model for healthcare. As a company, we want to help the NHS make positive changes at a strategic level, as many of the senior staff here at HomeLink have worked within that tremendous organisation and care greatly about its future.

Finding new and better ways of doing things, or helping people see solutions from a different angle is hugely rewarding, especially when that translates into positive feedback at the patient level. There have been occasions when the people we care for have initially been sceptical of a private company helping them, but they end up being hugely reluctant to see us leave. That kind of reaction inspires us perhaps more than anything else.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

In the not-too-distant past, I was in a corporate environment where what I felt were good ideas from myself and others were continually being shot down. I shared my frustration with a colleague who simply said: “Don’t let them stop you from growing into the tallest poppy”. I had to look it up, but so-called Tall Poppy Syndrome refers to a culture of criticising, resenting, and undermining the ideas, success or ambition of other people. Some organisations are really infected with poppy cutters. It can be toxic. That piece of advice helped me realise that if something doesn’t work initially, then sometimes it’s just a case of bad timing. But keep persevering and be that force for change.

Celebrating AHPs Day

AHPs are the second largest workforce within the NHS.

Every year on the 14th October – Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) come together to celebrate being part of the AHP family. It is a social movement that enables AHPs from different backgrounds and organisations to collaborate within and outside of their services, organisations and regions.

The 14th day of October was chosen to represent the 14 different AHP Professions.

AHPs play a crucial role in government policies and transformational care, with significant opportunities to support the delivery of the NHS long Term Plan, focusing on:

  • Preventing ill health and supporting healthier lives
  • A safe, high-quality service
  • Transforming out of hospital care
  • Supporting and ensuring collaborative and integrated working with acute and community services
  • Supporting improvement in efficiency and productivity

Do you know which professions makes up the AHP family? The are 14 – how many can you name?

Here is the full list:

– Occupational Therapists         – Physiotherapists         – Dietitians         – Radiographers         – Podiatrists/Chiropodists

– Prosthetists and Orthotists         – Drama Therapists         – Music Therapists         – Art Therapists        – Paramedics

– Operating Department Practitioners          – Orthoptists        – Osteopaths       – Speech and Language Therapists

I am proud to be an AHP and I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of AHPs during my career. The COVID-19 pandemic has truly put our professions under the spotlight and demonstrated just how important and valuable our AHP workforce is.

I want to say a big thank you to all of our AHPs colleagues who we work with directly and indirectly.

April Thompson. Head of Therapies at HomeLink Healthcare

A day in the life of a Rehabilitation Support Worker

Mazen describes his role as a Rehabilitation Support Worker at HomeLink Healthcare and the culture of the organisation that drives ways of working.

The patient should be at the centre of their care plan

My practice is to re-educate and increase functionality in patients at home, particularly those that have had reduced mobility or a fall. This could be due to impaired balance, muscle weakness, gait-ambulation disorders or lack of mobility. Our intervention as community rehabilitation workers assists and supports patients to return as much as they can to their previous normal life and go back to their main activities of daily living by giving them independence as much as they can. This could be shopping, mobilizing indoors or outdoors and help to improve their overall quality of life.

If you were to ask me what the benefits of the services being at home are, I would say that at home the patient finds themselves in a familiar setting, giving them peace of mind and knowing that family members could be nearby, but we still have a lot of challenges and goals that are personal to the patient. This makes it more stimulating and motivating at the same time. Our role as Rehabilitation Support Workers is to work with the patients goals and treatment plans – knowing that the patient should be at the centre of their plan.

We implement all of the evidence based physiotherapy plans that are based on assessment of the patients muscle, range of movement and current ability levels compared to their plans. It makes me very glad and happy to see our patients regaining their independence and getting back to their normal life when they achieve their goals. My relationship with my colleagues and managers at HomeLink Healthcare is filled with kindness, respect and frank discussions. It is young company where I feel valued, and good communication, wellness and work-life balance are promoted.

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

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