Health Secretary Praises work of NHS Forth Valley’s Hospital at Home Team
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf praised the work of NHS Forth Valley’s Hospital at Home team during a visit to the team who are based at Falkirk Community Hospital.
The Hospital at Home service aims to reduce hospital admissions for elderly patients by providing medical care in the comfort and familiarity of their own home.
The service enables people to receive treatments that would otherwise require them to be admitted to hospital, such as an intravenous fluids or temporary oxygen supplies. It also provides access to hospital tests under the care of a consultant in their own home.
Evidence shows that those benefitting from the service are more likely to avoid hospital or care home stays for up to six months after a period of acute illness. For older patients, it means being able to stay at home longer without losing their independence and this has contributed to overall improvements in patient satisfaction. It also helps alleviate pressure on hospital beds.
More than 750 patients across the Forth Valley area have benefited from the Hospital at Home service since it was established in May 2021.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, who announced the further funding of £3.6m to expand Hospital at Home services across Scotland during his visit to NHS Forth Valley, said: “Hospital at Home is one of the many ways we are providing more care in the community and reducing pressure on hospitals. From the success of the scheme so far, we can see that there is a real benefit to treating people at home where possible.
“We know that frail patients tend to occupy hospital beds for a longer period of time and that is why we are expanding the scheme. In reducing the number of prolonged hospital stays, we will free up more hospital beds.
“With additional funding, all health boards can apply for money to either develop or expand their services with the aim of doubling the capacity of Hospital at Home by the end of this year.”
Dr Sarah Henderson, Consultant Geriatrician for NHS Forth Valley’s Hospital at Home Team, said: “Developing this important service has enabled us to provide the
same high standard of clinical care and treatment patients would receive in hospital without the need for them to leave their own home.
“We know from feedback how much local patients have valued being able to stay in familiar, comfortable surroundings without the anxiety and disruption often associated with an admission to hospital. This is also less stressful for family and friends who know that their loved one is getting all the medical care and attention they require at home.”
Helen Sammels from Alloa has been supported twice by the Hospital at Home team when she required treatment for a respiratory condition.
She said: “I am sure I got better, quicker by being able to stay at home. It really made a difference being in my own surroundings, but I still got the care, services and tests I required. The Hospital at Home team were great, and I feel really grateful for all the treatment and support they provided.
“I also have a little dog and I didn’t want to leave her so being able to stay at home with her was very important to me and fortunately with the support of the Hospital at Home team I was able to do this.”
Doreen Scotland from Bo’ness received care and treatment from the Hospital at Home team for 4 weeks for cardiac and respiratory related illnesses in March 2022.
She said: “It was much better than having to go to hospital as although the nurses in the Acute Assessment Unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital are great there are no windows in the Unit and I have a fantastic view from my own house.
“Being treated at home meant I could use my toilet, sleep in my own bed and have a cup of coffee whenever I wanted one. It made a big difference to me and my husband and I had all the tests and treatment I required without having to go into hospital.”
James Dempster from Stirling received care and treatment from the Hospital at Home team for 8 weeks in Oct and Nov 2022. He said: “The Hospital at Home team were absolutely great and the medical care and attention I received was superb. Being at home in my own surroundings was really important as I could sleep in my own bed, eat my own meals and had everything close at hand.
“The standard of care I received was excellent and the nurses took the time to have a chat and really cheered you up. It also meant I wasn’t taking up a bed in hospital which could be used by someone else and my wife didn’t need to travel back and forth to visit me.”
The Scottish Government’s total investment in Hospital at Home services is now £8.1 million since 2020. Funding is available to all health boards, and their health and social care partnerships to support the development of new services, or to expand the capacity of existing services, with the key aim of doubling the current capacity by December 2022.
In addition to Hospital at Home, the Scottish Government is increasing virtual bed capacity through the Outpatient Parenteral Antimicrobial Treatment scheme and Respiratory Community Response Teams, both of which are delivering at home care.
This increase in virtual bed capacity is part of a longer term ambition to deliver specialist acute care in a person’s own home achieving comparable outcomes to a hospital stay.