What is Hospital@Home?

In Somerset, we’re working with health and care partners to develop a new Hospital@Home programme (sometimes known as virtual wards) to care for patients at home safely, rather than being in hospital.

This service is a safe and efficient alternative to hospital care that is enhanced by technology. It supports patients to remain at home who would otherwise be in hospital to receive the acute care, monitoring and treatment that they need.

This includes either preventing avoidable admissions into hospital or supporting early discharge out of hospital. The service can help patients to complete their treatment or be monitored prior to surgery from the comfort of their own home.

Patients will be closely monitored in the comfort and familiarity of their own home by a team of experienced clinicians such as consultants, nurses, therapists, healthcare assistants and social workers.

Monitoring can be through a number of methods and these will be tailored to each patient and could include telephone or video consultations, or remote digital monitoring devices.

Hospital@Home works in partnership with other healthcare services, such as primary care, social care, other NHS community teams, SWAST and NHS111.

How does it work?

The Hospital@Home service is not a separate service or team, it is built on a model that connects a series of different teams together to ensure that patients receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

Patients are referred to the service and assessed by the team as to their suitability. If patients meet the criteria their care plan and how they will be monitored will be discussed with the patient.

Care plans could include:

  • Medical treatments: such as oxygen, antibiotic therapy, or medications administered intravenously.
  • Patients may have regular blood tests or physical observations. (Some patients may have to visit hospital for additional tests which can’t be carried out at home.)
  • Simple digital devices may be used, such as healthcare apps and blood pressure monitors.
  • Telephone or video consultations may also be used by the team to remotely manage or monitor patients.

What are the benefits for patients?

The Hospital@Home service can help patients to leave hospital sooner and recover in the comfort and familiarity of home, this has a positive effect on mental health and wellbeing and can help speed up recovery. We know that people who are admitted to hospital often lose their mobility and independence very quickly, which makes it harder for them to get home and back to doing the things that they enjoy.

A few months ago, a small test and learn project was launched, where people who did not want to attend hospital, were successfully treated and cared for at home. Initial feedback has been very positive, and we are continuing to work closely with patients, families, carers and clinical teams to listen to feedback and further develop the Hospital@Home model.

Who can access Hospital@Home care?

To access the service, patients need to be aged over 18 and registered with a Somerset GP. Patients can be referred by GPs, or transferred from hospital wards, emergency admission areas or even clinics.

How long will patients be looked after by the Hospital@Home service?

The expected treatment time is between 1 and 14 days. Patients will be assessed to see if they are well enough ready to be discharged. They will be assessed daily to check progress.