Virtual Ward Pathways

Significant work is needed to almost double the capacity of virtual ward provision and to increase occupancy levels from the average 70%. In contract HomeLink's occupancy levels are 97%.

What is a Virtual Ward? 

Virtual Wards support patients who would otherwise be in hospital to receive the acute care, monitoring and treatment they need in their own home. This can be either ‘step up’ care (to prevent admissions to hospital) or ‘step down’ care (to leave hospital sooner).    

Virtual wards are a safe and efficient alternative to in-patient care. Our Nurses, Physiotherapists and Healthcare Assistants deliver in-person care in the place people call home, supported and enabled by technology.

In 2022, NHS England set a target for every integrated care system (ICS) to create 40-50 Virtual Ward beds per 100,000 people by April 2023.   

Caring for acutely ill patients at home requires skill and experience. HomeLink Healthcare’s multi-disciplinary teams are built around clinicians with backgrounds in both acute and community care, who are experienced in delivering clinical care in the home. We are also able to provide wrap around care in the home.  

What types of patients are suitable for Virtual Wards? 

Our Virtual Wards provide care at home for patients who have been in hospital, often with an acute exacerbation of a chronic condition or following an operation. Virtual Ward patients are also those identified as being at risk of admission to hospital. We support people in a variety of pathways including respiratory, cardiac, orthopaedic and frailty. 

How does a Virtual Ward work? 

In the Virtual Ward model, clinical responsibility lies with the patient’s consultant, GP or primary care lead.

The HomeLink Healthcare, virtual ward services includes:  

  • An on-site team managed by a Clinical and Operational Lead co-ordinates patient care from the hospital, liaising with the consultant 
  • A community-based team provides in-person clinical care in the patient’s home (or other place of residence) complimenting remote monitoring, where used. Typically, visits are scheduled between 0700 and 2200hrs, seven days a week. 
  • A 24/7 on-call service provides patients with immediate access to senior clinicians.  
  • Continuous or intermittent remote monitoring, communicates patient information to the hospital. We have relationships with a number of leading providers of remote monitoring equipment, both intermittent and continuous, which can be included into our service. Alternately, we are happy to use equipment already purchased by the NHS.  
  • Real-time reporting enables performance to be regularly tracked against key performance indicators (KPIs). 

HomeLink Healthcare follows and adheres to the Virtual Ward guidance provided by NHS England. More details on this can be found here.

How can I set up a Virtual Ward? 

HomeLink Healthcare can rapidly and safely co-design and deploy a virtual ward which has an immediate benefit to patients and health systems. Typically this takes between 8 and 12 weeks from the date we are commissioned.

Read more about our Virtual Ward support within Norfolk & Waveney ICS here.

More about HomeLink’s Virtual Wards

  • HomeLink Healthcare have supported Virtual Wards at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, James Paget University Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.
  • In 2023 we supported over 650 patients on a Virtual Ward
  • An average of 19 bed days saved per patient across our Virtual Wards
  • Our Virtual Wards run at 97 percent capacity compared to an average across the NHS of 70 per cent (November 2023)We report a suite of virtual ward key performance indicators (KPIs) in real-time, so commissioners have complete transparency about what we are doing and how we are doing it.  
  • We are pre-qualified for Virtual Wards on the NHS SBS Framework

FREE WHITE PAPER:  DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY NOW

The January 2024 report Virtual Wards: Achieving the Ambition, Delivering the Benefits, stated that “Significant work is needed to almost double the capacity to achieve the ambition of 40 to 50 virtual beds per 100,000 population”. The report also said “Three in five ICBs have significant work to do in increasing referrals to and utilisation of the virtual ward capacity that has been created.” READ THE WHITE PAPER HERE.

Work with us

Find out more about the process of working with HomeLink Healthcare to set up or support the delivery of your Virtual Ward or other Hospital at Home services.

Get in touch

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

Resources:

Thought leadership

Virtual wards: tech matters, but so do people

Virtual ward, Partnerships

Emily Wells is an award winning digital health information expert. Here, she outlines her thoughts on how to develop a successful virtual ward, drawing on her Trust’s experience of working on new care pathways with HomeLink Healthcare.

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Thought leadership

CEO presents lessons learnt from setting up and managing virtual wards

Virtual ward

Our Chief Executive and Clinical Director Jill Ireland has been in demand this month and has presented at three events in the past month. See her in action here.

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Thought leadership

Virtual wards and how the independent sector can enable their success

Virtual ward, Partnerships, Quality & governance

Jill Ireland, CEO and Clinical Director of HomeLink Healthcare discusses virtual wards and how they're evolving.

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Case study

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

Virtual ward, Patient experiences, Partnerships

A requirement was identified for more complex wound care within the community so we developed a new service providing VAC pump therapy to patients in their homes as part of a virtual ward.

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Case study

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

Virtual ward, Partnerships

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. Find out how we've collaborated with NHS partners to combat these challenges.

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Case study

Supporting the flow of patient care from hospital to home

Virtual ward, Patient experiences, Partnerships

NNUH at Home is a co-created service, set up in 2019 to release in-patient bed capacity and improve patient flow.

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Thought leadership

Almost 60,000 NHS beds blocked by delayed transfers of care every month

Virtual ward

Find out how Early Supported Discharge Services and Virtual Wards can reduce Delayed Transfers of Care 

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“You did everything exceptionally and allowed me to leave hospital six weeks earlier than planned because of the service you provided.

THANK YOU!!”

Patient feedback

“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”

Patient feedback

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, and let you know that the work you do makes a true difference to people’s lives and wellbeing.”

Dr Vassiliki Bravis Consultant, Imperial College London

“Exceptional, amazing service with highly qualified staff. I felt confident at all times that staff knew how to deal with my picc line and my four times-a-day antibiotics was made easier by such lovely caring and compassionate staff”

Patient feedback

“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.”

Patient feedback

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

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