“Many people don’t realise we’re able to do ECGs, give intravenous drugs, and take blood samples from the comfort of their own home,” said senior physiotherapist Khushali Shah, who provides part of the new ‘Home ward’ service.
She continued: “This allows patients in Ealing to get the help they need without coming to hospital, and helps to ensure hospital beds are available for the people who need them most.”
Home ward Ealing helps people during a period of severe or sudden illness, or when they have been discharged from general hospital, so they can recover and remain well at home. It was set up in October through a partnership of local organisations, each contributing its own expertise and knowledge to provide a joined-up care network.
Anyone over the age of 18 who is registered with a GP can be referred. In the first six months, between October and March, the service received more than 2,500 referrals.
Home ward is commissioned by the NHS Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in partnership with Ealing Council, and it is provided by a group of organisations led by West London Mental Health Trust. These include Central and North West London Foundation Trust, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust, and London Central and West Unscheduled Care Collaborative.
Thanks to the partnership between local organisations, Home ward is able to provide patients with access to a mix of health and social care professionals: Doctors, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, mental health staff, and pharmacists; and it can even facilitate home repair services and transport. Sometimes the Home ward team provides direct medical care such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) in the patient’s home; on other occasions it gives people practical help to help them stay well in their own homes, such as arranging for a safety rail.
‘We’re now better equipped…through one, joined-up service’
And, as physiotherapist Khushali explained, the Home ward Ealing team can also refer people on for additional help where necessary.
She said: “I’ve noticed that many people we treat for physical pain also suffer from conditions like anxiety and depression. It’s great that we’re now better equipped to deal with these sorts of issues too, through one, joined-up service.
“Now that care is more integrated there’s a lot more we can do for the elderly, like referring them to day centres to encourage social interaction if they’re lonely. Having a whole system approach really does reap huge rewards for patients.
“We take a very holistic approach to our patients’ healthcare. Once we’ve referred someone on to another service, there are always meetings with the whole team to find out what happens to them, and make sure they’re receiving the most appropriate treatment.
“Home ward physiotherapists treat conditions like falls, urinary tract infections, dizziness and also conditions such as shortness of breath. We see a really large variety of people.
“Once we’ve assessed the patient, there’s a lot we can do for them in the community. We can provide them with any necessary equipment, help with home modifications like toilet rails, and give them short term rehab.”
‘Brings benefits of hospital care into the home’
Stephen Day, director of adult services at Ealing Council, said: “The service meets the needs of local people who want to remain independent in the community, making choices and living their own lives, by using a new model of care.”
Dr Mohini Parmar, chair of Ealing CCG, said: “Home ward is about bringing the benefits of hospital care into the patient’s familiar home environment. The feedback back we’ve had from patients who have used the service has been extremely positive.”