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25th November 2019

St Helena has piloted a new service caring for patients at home at the end of life.

The Virtual Ward service offers personal care at home to support people who have suddenly deteriorated at the end of life, and who have no care package in place. It also supports patients being discharged from hospital where their preferred place of care is home. The aim of the service is to keep people at home, where they want to be.

Between January and September this year, 165 referrals were received for the Virtual Ward.

Initially funded by the CCG, the four-bedded Virtual Ward works within St Helena’s SinglePoint, complementing the rapid respond nature of the 24/7 service.

Frances Rowe, SinglePoint Team Lead, said: “The Virtual Ward has changed what we can do in SinglePoint as we offer two visits a day to patients with personal care needs and who are in crisis at end of life. Our healthcare assistants can help with all hygiene needs such as washing and mouth care and report directly back to us, meaning we can supplement visits with clinical support if someone is running into difficulty between visits.

“They are an experienced team and as well as looking after the patient, they also support families and friends too. It helps it is a small team so patients get used to seeing the same people and are not presented with someone different every time who doesn’t know their story.”

Following the success of the service’s pilot, St Helena has secured additional funding from the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance (the Alliance) to run the service for the last quarter of the year, until March 2020, with an increase in beds, from four to eight.

Frances added: “This service allows us to offer our patients in the community the care they would get on the inpatient unit here at The Hospice. Not only do they have our HCAs coming in if they need further support, they have access to our full multi-disciplinary team. Double the number of beds, means we can care for double the number of people.

“We often receive lovely letters from family members, thanking us for providing comfort and compassion, not only to their loved one, but to them to, during those last few days of life. St Helena is therefore committed to continue to support the service from March 2020 from our charitable funds whilst we work with the alliance to review current NHS grant arrangements.

“As an organisation we are working in partnership with East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE) and social care services to ensure those who need the support of the Virtual Ward, receive it in a timely way. It will remain a St Helena service with our nurses and healthcare assistants working within SinglePoint.

St Helena costs millions of pounds a year to run and relies on the generosity of the local community through fundraising, donations, visiting its shops, playing its Lottery and leaving a legacy, to raise two thirds of those costs.

The local charity helps local people face incurable illness and bereavement, supporting them and their families and carers. In the last year (Apr 2018-March 2019), St Helena has cared for more than 3,850 patients and families at The Hospice, through its day therapies, over the phone via its 24/7 SinglePoint service, and at home.

Frances explained: “We are only able to provide our vital services thanks to the generosity and kindness of our local community. Without your support, we couldn’t continue to help the thousands of people that need us. By fundraising, donating, shopping and supporting us in any way you can, you can help us fund our Virtual Ward so we can help more people to spend their last few days at home, with those they love, and to die in peace, with dignity.”

Posted: 25th November 2019


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