A service that has supported 600 Walsall children and young people to receive care from the comfort of their own homes with the help of technology has reached its milestone first year.
Walsall Healthcare’s Paediatric Service introduced a ‘Paediatric Virtual Ward’ to its Children’s Ward a year ago today.
Virtual wards allow patients to get the care they need at home, safely and conveniently, rather than being in hospital and they also support early discharge.
Support includes remote monitoring using app technology and medical devices such as a pulse oximeter. Face-to-face care from multi-disciplinary teams based in the community is also provided as appropriate.
Alison Watson, Virtual Ward Sister at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We as team feel very proud in what we have achieved in the first year of the Paediatric Virtual Ward.
“We have supported 600 patients to date, with six different pathways to help with flow of patients. As a new service we have worked with the Multidisciplinary Team to develop the service and establish and extend our pathways.
“The Virtual Ward Nurses feel it’s a privilege to help look after the children and their families at home as this is ultimately the best place for the child. Working on paediatric inpatient departments for many years, we feel we have been able to use our clinical expertise in a positive way to set up this service.
“We have also had excellent patient feedback.”
One patient who has benefitted from this is one-year-old Joseph from Walsall.
His mum Stef said: “Joseph was diagnosed with pneumonia last year and we had to spend nine days in hospital over the Christmas period. He was discharged on 29 December to the virtual ward for five days rather than spend that extra time in hospital, so he could come home to finally celebrate Christmas with his family. Nine days in hospital with a one-year-old is really tough, so this was a relief to us all to be able to continue his care at home.
“At home, we checked his oxygen, heart rate and respiratory rate, using the equipment given to us. We recorded the results on a tablet supplied by the hospital and then someone from the Virtual Ward Team called us to discuss the observations.
“The team were also available to do home visits if you were worried about anything which is invaluable when your child has been reliant on nebulisers, oxygen and IVs.
“By far the biggest benefit to me was the reassurance of having a Nurse to discuss any concerns with after being discharged, and being able to check his oxygen levels with hospital equipment after he was so reliant on oxygen for the duration of his stay.”
She added: “The staff are wonderful, every single one of them is so helpful and understanding. We have had to use the virtual ward around six times in the last year and they have given us so much support each and every time.
“I’d never heard of Virtual Ward before my son was admitted and I think it’s just an incredible idea that gives families support and reassurance exactly when they need it most.”
The Paediatric Virtual Ward Team consists of:
- Alison Watson – Virtual Ward Sister
- Abigail Waltho – Virtual Ward Sister
- Michelle Walker – Virtual Ward Sister
- Joshua Gooding – Virtual Ward Charge Nurse
- Dr Anjan Bhaduri – Lead Consultant
- Victoria Harrison – Paediatric Matron