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Hundreds of Ashgate Hospice patients will be able to receive ward-equivalent palliative care in the comfort of their own homes after the rollout of a unique new service.
More than 350 more people across North Derbyshire will be able to access care every year as part of the hospice’s new Virtual Ward.
Patients will receive ward-equivalent care in their own homes as well as remote supervision from consultants, specialist nurses, social workers, therapists and other medical professionals.
Modern equipment and technology provided to patients will also allow them to easily submit readings, such as their blood oxygen levels and temperature.
Patients, including those in care homes, will receive high quality face-to-face care when needed and can request 24-hour help through an out-of-hours number.
It is hoped the rollout will prevent avoidable admissions into the hospice or hospital and support early discharge.
Hayley Wardle, Director of Quality and Patient Care, said: “We’re delighted to be introducing our new Virtual Ward to the patients and families who need us now and in the future.
“The initiative is an enhanced version of the community care we are already delivering and allows patients to get the support they need at home safely and conveniently, rather than being in hospital or the hospice.
“Virtual wards can also support the safe and earlier discharge of patients from our Inpatient Unit, enabling patients to be monitored at home and freeing up our specialist beds.
“It essentially means that we can extend our care and support the community even further by bringing more people into our care.”
The pilot rollout of the scheme, which has already been successfully introduced by the NHS, started accepting patients at the end of January.
The project fully opened in April 2023, allowing up to 10 patients at any one time.
The hospice’s experienced specialist community nurses, Amanda Hall and Sophie Dudley, have started roles within the new Virtual Ward Team and will be supported by palliative care support workers, social workers among others.
Under the arrangement the patient would also have access to ward services such as complementary therapy and spiritual care just as if they were staying at the hospice.
Staff will be based at the hospice’s site in Old Brampton, Chesterfield, but will make visits to the homes of patients when needed.
Hayley Wardle added: “Patients and their families will have access to doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and more whilst receiving Virtual Ward care at Ashgate.
“Support can include remote monitoring using apps, technology platforms, wearables and medical devices and may also involve face-to-face care from multi-disciplinary teams, such as our community nursing team, doctors and therapists – and they can be reassured they’re being monitored on an on-going basis.
“Not only will the service be convenient so patients’ condition can be monitored at home, but we hope it will empower patients to take a more active role in the management of their health to improve their quality of life.”