It’s normal for patients to miss their home comforts when in hospital and the familiarity of home can often help them to recover. Enabled by telehealth technology, Croydon’s Rapid Response virtual ward allows hundreds of patients to receive around the clock hospital monitoring and treatment at home, whilst freeing up hospital beds for those with more complex needs.
For Rose, who suffers with chronic asthma, being given the option to be a virtual ward patient instead of going into hospital was music to her ears. She could control the TV, eat her favourite meals and her family were able to visit when it suited her.
Delivered by Croydon Health Service’s Rapid Response Team, the virtual ward uses technology to care for patients with acute and acute long-term conditions including hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and Long Covid.
Since March 2022, Croydon has treated 130 patients on virtual wards and saved 1000 hospital bed days. This has enabled residents to get the care they need at home safely and conveniently whilst easing demand on hospital beds for those with more complex conditions. In this video, Rose shares her experience as a virtual ward patient.
Virtual wards have created a flexible way to deliver care at home and their technology allows health and care professionals to safely monitor and treat any signs of deterioration safely. Patients like Rose have been enabled to receive more personalised and efficient care whilst reducing admissions to hospital.
If I had to choose, this is what I would choose, because it gives me the option of being in my own environment where I’m more comfortable.”Rose Cummings, virtual ward patient
At home health monitoring
If suitable for virtual ward care, patients are trained how to use the device which sends continuous observations including their breathing, heart rate, skin temperature directly to the Rapid Response team.
Patients can do their own blood pressure and weight which is submitted via Bluetooth to the virtual ward care team. This is then reviewed by a clinical team of doctors, nurses and health care assistants who care for patients in their home.
If there is a sign of health deterioration such as blood pressure rising, the Rapid Response team gets an alert immediately. Staff will call the patient over the phone or by video call to talk through any health changes and to decide on the most appropriate next steps.
Project Lead and Rapid Response Matron, Ritima Pradhan, said: “I’m extremely proud that our virtual ward is helping people in Croydon to receive high quality care in their homes who would otherwise be in hospital. We’re pleased to be able to provide flexible services to our patients, especially as we edge into the winter months where there will be increased demand on health services.”
South West London Central Remote Monitoring Hub
“I’m excited for virtual wards to develop further as an integrated service across south west London to support more residents over the coming months. By the end of the year we aim to launch the south west London Central Remote Monitoring (CRM) hub, a lead service centre for all south west London virtual wards.
“The hub will be centrally responsible for the observation monitoring of all South West London virtual ward patients. When needed, the CRM hub team will delegate care and treatment actions i.e. blood tests, and patient assessments to each borough team to co-ordinate patient care locally. This new approach will enable us to deliver a more streamlined way of working and efficient care in the community.”
Eligibility for Croydon’s virtual ward
The Rapid Response team assesses patients individually and review referrals from health care professionals e.g., GPs to see if they will benefit from at home monitoring as an alternative to a hospital stay.
Virtual ward patients need to:
- Live in Croydon borough or be registered with a Croydon GP
- Aged 18 or over
- Living in their own home, (including a care home or sheltered accommodation).