National evidence shows that a long length of stay in a hospital ward, especially for older patients, can greatly reduce a person’s confidence, mobility and independence. Satisfaction increases when patients are supported to remain, with dignity and independence, in their own homes or care home.
With this in mind, Buckinghamshire NHS Trust’s vision for the next three to five years is to bring health, care and the voluntary sector closer together to support people’s health and well-being in their own communities.
Across NHS sites at any one time there are a number of patients who are medically fit to leave hospital but need ongoing care. Many of them in the past were transferred to Ward 5B at Wycombe Hospital, whilst they waited for that care to be put into place. On average patients stayed an additional 24 days in hospital as a result.
As part of the restructuring, Bucks NHS Trust embarked on a six month pilot project in 2016 to transfer the resources used to maintain Ward 5B into packages of care. They were able to offer patients access to specialists and ongoing support from Adult Community Health Teams, whilst in the safety and comfort of their own homes.
After evaluating the pilot the trust found that feedback from patients was overwhelmingly positive. They saw an increase in the number of patients kept well and out of hospital as well as a reduction in the length of stay for other patients already in hospital.
As a result of the pilot Bucks NHS trust will continue to develop new models of care for people in the community, instead of transferring the care back into a hospital setting.
The beds on Ward 5B are now being used by stroke patients as part of the planned expansion of stroke services.