The BBC in a recent article, used the example of the Royal Free Hospital’s post-acute care enablement (PACE) scheme in which case finders, appointed by community health trusts, identify patients who are ready to be discharged from hospital to continue their care at home. These are patients with acute medical conditions but who are medically stable. The scheme has resulted in a ward of 24 beds being freed up for patients requiring vascular and specialist cancer treatment.
Recovery at home programmes provide complex clinical support to patients in their own home, enabling them to leave hospital earlier than might otherwise have been the case. The patient remains under the care of the hospital consultant in what is known as a virtual ward.
Healthcare at Home’s report, ‘Addressing the hospital capacity problem – The Recovery at Home solution’ examined the potential impact of recovery at home services in light of the rise in emergency admissions and increased pressure in hospital capacity. The report revealed that a typical acute hospital trust could release around 40 beds if more patients were given the option to recover from an operation or treatment at home. The report also demonstrated a 98 per cent satisfaction rate amongst patients and lower rates of readmission after discharge from the homecare service.
BBC Radio 4’s Today programme which aired on Monday 19th August, also made reference to the key findings in the report.
University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust, in partnership with Healthcare at Home, was one such trust that successfully implemented a recovery at home service in 2009. In commenting on the partnership, Ruth Poole, Group Clinical Director at Healthcare at Home said, “It hasn’t been an easy journey, we’ve had to convince doctors and patients one by one that this was a good idea, A great deal of time was invested in co-designing the service, establishing and understanding clinical protocols and ensuring clinical governance was in place”.
In talking about the recovery at home service more broadly, Ruth commented, “The challenge that the NHS is faced with is how do you continue to provide a high standard and delivery of care to patients in the wake of hospital capacity pressures and growing numbers of hospital admissions? By working closely with primary, community and social care services, we are able to help patients navigate their way through a complex system, discharging patients earlier, and providing the best possible care that we can in the comfort of the patients home”