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.
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.
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.
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.
Find out more about the process of commissioning HomeLink Healthcare to set up a virtual ward.
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.
“I am so grateful to have been referred to HomeLink Healthcare, they have really helped me get back on my feet. If I had stayed in the hospital I would not have achieved everything I have done”
“The visiting therapist took her time with me, was always providing encouragement and without that I wouldn’t be at the point I am today.”
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