Across the South West, Integrated Care Systems are developing virtual wards to support patients who would otherwise be in hospital to receive the care, monitoring and treatment they need in the place they call home.
A virtual ward is a safe and efficient alternative to going into hospital for people who are acutely unwell. By being in their own home, people are enabled to recover and rehabilitate in familiar surroundings, which can be a benefit to people who become less orientated or less mobile in a hospital environment.
People are regularly reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team to ensure they receive the highest levels of care. Where appropriate, personalised digital technology such as healthcare apps, wearable symptom tracking devices and telephone or video consultations may also be used by the team to remotely manage monitor the person’s condition until they are well.
Integrated Care Systems are currently working to implement virtual wards for a range of needs, including acute respiratory infection, people living with frailty or for people before or after surgery. They also support people who have been in hospital with COVID-19 infections and learning from establishing this service during the pandemic is being used in developing virtual wards more widely.
The following videos highlight the experience of people using and working in virtual wards:
Virtual wards are part of NHS@Home, which aims to enable people to be cared for in the place they call home. NHS@Home covers a spectrum of personalised care enabled by digital technology, ranging from monitoring stable conditions to in-person care with visibility of patients on a digital dashboard.