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14 April 2022

Hospital @ Home teamFrimley Health and Berkshire Healthcare (BHFT) are now providing acute hospital care in patients’ homes seven days a week, known as the Frailty Virtual Community Ward.

The Trust launched the service for older patients with frailty in north-east Hampshire, Farnham and Surrey Heath last year and the service is now being replicated by BHFT across east Berkshire. It now covers the entire Frimley Health and Care Integrated Care System.

There are two teams covering the North and South of the ICS and comprising staff from Frimley Health, Berkshire Healthcare and the Healthcare Resourcing Group. The team can carry out blood tests, give IV medication, take electrocardiogram (ECG) readings, give nebulisers or oxygen, perform therapy assessments and provide equipment to support patients’ mobility.

The service also has seven-day consultant geriatrician cover so patients can be referred to the team over a weekend, helping to free up hospital beds and avoid hospital admission where appropriate.

The expansion comes as the Trust faces substantial operational pressures with more than 400 patients a day visiting each of our emergency departments. The team will take referrals from GPs, specialist community nurses, NHS 111, 999, and for patients being stepped down from acute hospital care.

Instead of being sent an ambulance or being asked to attend hospital or a GP surgery, patients can be seen in their own homes by the Urgent Community Response (UCR) team within two hours of referral. They will also have follow-up visits from the team as necessary.

Caring for up to 24 patients every day, the team should significantly reduce avoidable hospital admissions of older patients and unnecessary attendances at emergency departments.

Lucy Abbott, consultant geriatrician and chief of service for community services and older people’s medicine at Frimley Health, said: “We were already ahead of the curve with our Hospital @ Home service.

“We had a team in place with the right skillset and a strong collaborative relationship with our local partners across the community.

“This expansion is a brilliant step forward for the service and will no doubt help more patients to get care they need within their own homes, while also helping to manage operational pressures across the system.”

A recent Frimley Health Hospital @ Home survey showed that 100% of patients would recommend the service and would rather be treated at home than admitted to hospital for future episodes of care.

One patient’s family member said: “Exceptional care was given to my father. [The team] were very proactive and sorted out extra problems that they discovered on arrival, including a blocked catheter…. it’s an excellent approach to patient care.”

Another relative, whose mum was cared for by the team, said: “This service is absolutely wonderful.

“My mother was assessed very quickly and very efficiently. In the blink of an eye, they were taking blood, rehydrating her and giving her anti-sickness medication. They visited her again two days later and rehydrated her again and booked her a CT scan.

“Being able to treat her in a ‘home’ environment was such a positive experience. I cannot say enough times how valuable this service is for the elderly in the community.”

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