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28th April 2020

Hospice partners with home care provider to support end of life patients in Virtual Ward

A local charity and a home care provider have joined forces to support local people at the end of life at home, helping to reduce the pressure on the NHS.

St Helena Hospice has partnered with Bluebird Care Colchester and Tendring to provide its SinglePoint Virtual Ward service to patients and families in the comfort of their own homes, in the last days of life.

The partnership comes as St Helena Hospice has adapted and expanded its SinglePoint service to act as a coordinator for all local services, to ensure local people are given the option to stay out of hospital if they don’t need to go in, and for end of life care to take place in the patient’s home.

The Virtual Ward is an extension of the SinglePoint service, where patients receive similar personal care from healthcare assistants as they would at The Hospice, but at home.

This innovative service, frees up valuable bed space at the hospital, and local clinicians’ time, allowing them to focus on treating those who that need to be cared for in hospital.

Jo Tonkin, St Helena Hospice’s director of care, said: “Our Virtual Ward has expanded significantly since we launched the service last year, and has evolved further because of the pandemic, with the number of beds growing in the last few weeks.

“We’re now delighted to be working alongside Bluebird to help us increase the capacity of this service to allow us to support 14 patients at any one time. We reached out to Bluebird to work with us as they have an excellent reputation and portfolio for managing complex patients in the community.

“This has also allowed us to change our model of care, increasing the level of support we can provide. We are now able to visit patients up to three times a day, or more if necessary, depending on an individual’s need. We can now also support people for up to four weeks, whereas before the pandemic, it was up to two weeks.”

Melvyn Plum, Managing Director of Bluebird Care Colchester & Tendring said: “Our whole team are immensely proud to provide vital support to St Helena Hospice at such a critical time. By utilising the latest cloud based technology, we are able to streamline the referral process which allows an immediate response so we can put the care and support in place straight away.

“Our care assistants are rigorously trained to provide a unique service of personalised care, from check-in visits through to full live-in support, so we are perfectly matched to assist St Helena Hospice and help our local community.”

The Virtual Ward team has access to the SinglePoint specialists for advice and guidance if needed, such as for help with managing difficult symptoms. They can also help with psychological distress, not only for the patient, but also for the family, as this can be a very challenging time for them, caring for a loved one at home.

Jo Tonkin added: “Families sometimes find themselves in a situation where they can’t manage. Symptoms are challenging, the patient becomes distressed and ambulances may well be called to take the patient to hospital.

“The Virtual Ward has access to all the SinglePoint rapid response services to make sure we can deliver the right level of support for patients when they need it 24/7. Our aim is to avoid admission to the hospital or The Hospice and to help the patient to remain at home, where they’re surrounded by their own family members, in a familiar environment, which can be very reassuring. This also helps reduce fear and anxiety.

“Many families have sent us letters and messages of thanks, reporting that they found the team to be hugely supportive at a difficult time when they needed that support around them.”

To find out more about the Virtual Ward click here

To find out more about Bluebird Care, click here

Posted: 28th April 2020


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