An innovative “virtual ward” for children has been launched as a pilot scheme in Bath the surrounding areas.
The initiative involving two community children’s nurses working for Sirona Care & Health will mean sick youngsters won’t need to stay as long in hospital but will receive nursing care at home.
Called COT – Children’s Outreach Team – it will provide high quality nursing care to ensure the child has a safe and speedy recovery at home with all children referred to the service by a paediatrician.
Working in partnership with the Royal United Hospital, Bath, children with conditions such as chest infections, croup or asthma who are stable will be allowed home and then visited by a nurse in the following days as the child is monitored for up to 72 hours.
Jenny Theed, Sirona’s operations director, said: “It is a really exciting pilot as it will be helping families who need nursing support but don’t need to stay in an acute hospital. It will mean children can be discharged from hospital a day or so earlier than they would have been.
“We believe the service will be responsive, flexible and will increase patient choice, offer care closer to home and increase parental confidence to manage their child’s condition at home.
“Being in hospital can be an anxious time for parent and child, this service will allow families to return home to recover while being monitored by highly-trained nurses.”
The community nurses – Katie Burgess and Sarah Jones – are from Sirona’s Lifetime service which cares for children with life limiting and life threatening conditions within B&NES, South Gloucestershire, Bristol, Wiltshire, Somerset and North Somerset.
Katie said: “We are both experienced community children’s nurses and this is an exciting opportunity to be part of a joint initiative with the RUH. Our aim is to improve the quality of the patient experience by enabling children to leave hospital earlier and be cared for at home.”
Sarah added: “We are looking forward to the new challenges this will bring and working in partnership with our colleagues at the RUH.”
The pilot, which launched this week, will be evaluated after six months before a decision is made as to whether it is extended.