Our virtual ward will save hospital and hospice admissions

We’re thrilled to announce we’ve launched a new service to allow a safe alternative to hospital or hospice for patients who need palliative or end-of-life care through community-based acute health care delivery.

The innovative service will see eligible patients admitted onto a ‘virtual ward’ where their observations can be monitored and medications quickly altered if their condition changes.

Already the virtual ward has had three admissions, with patients and their loved ones benefitting from the monitoring and reassurance provided by clinical care teams.

Head of Community and Hospital Services, Sarah Roberts, said: “In collaboration with FCMS and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, our virtual ward is a way of providing a key support service to our most poorly patients.

“If we have a patient with unstable symptoms or uncontrolled pain, we can monitor to ensure any changes we have made in their care are effective.”

The virtual ward could also prevent a 999 call, resulting in a trip to hospital at the end of a patient’s life.

Loved ones caring for a patient who is close to dying can panic and call for an ambulance, when actually trained hospice staff are able to provide the necessary care at home, preventing an unwanted hospital admission.

It’s a chance for all medical teams which could potentially be involved in a patient’s care working together for the patient and their wishes.

The virtual ward places the patient front and centre of their own care; it allows us to understand what matters to the patient at the point we become involved. We can hear it from them rather than other medical professionals involved in their care. Because we’re not trying to fix them, we’re just trying to help them.

Along with the virtual monitoring, our team of Advanced Clinical Practitioners and Healthcare Assistants will also be visiting patient’s homes to offer psychological support, basic complementary therapy, rehabilitation alongside our Living Well Service and basic symptom management.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals’ Executive Director of Integrated Care, Janet Barnsley, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners on this exciting initiative, providing more support to patients approaching end of life enabling them to be cared for in their preferred place and giving peace of mind to their loved ones and carers that the care plan is being overseen help is always at hand.”

An FCMS spokesperson said: “FCMS are delighted to be working alongside the team at Trinity and their patients and carers. The Virtual Ward allows patients to stay in the comfort of their own homes with their loved ones with the added benefit of being supported by specialist services to identify deterioration or instability of their conditions. This will hopefully prevent an admission into the hospice and hospital.”