Welcome to real care in the virtual ward

Picture of the virtual ward team

One of the high-tech, modern services that Bexley Community Health Services (BCHS) runs is the virtual ward.

A virtual ward is not a ward in a hospital. A virtual ward allows people to be given a high level of care in their own homes instead of being admitted unnecessarily to hospital.

BCHS has created six virtual wards, each of which allow for 50 elderly patients to receive high levels of care within their own home from Advanced Primary Nurses (APNs). An APN is a specialist nurse who can prescribe medicine and treatment and are trained to carry out full medical examinations.

Ayo Ijoma is the Lead Nurse for BCHS virtual ward, based at the Erith Health Centre in Pier Road, Erith. With six years under her belt with the NHS, Ayo has been with BCHS since September last. A mother of three, who lives in Greenwich, she is proud of the work her team do in the virtual ward.

Ayo said: “APNs visit patients at their homes and talk to them and their carers about the sort of help required. APNs will also decide how often patients need to be visited and who else needs to be involved in caring for the patient.

“Suitable patients with long term conditions, complex medical conditions or those with an identified risk  of emergency admission to hospital are referred to the service from GPs, district nurses, hospitals and social services.”

Patients remain on the virtual ward during the acute phase of the illness and until medically stable. This is about 12 weeks on average. This method of treatment has been proven to reduce the number of hospital admissions. And when a patient has received treatment they are then discharged from the ward to be monitored by the most suitable health or social care professional.

Ayo again: “To use the virtual ward in Bexley you must be over 60 years old and be registered with a GP in the borough. And you must have had two or more admissions or presentations to Accident and Emergency withing the last three months.”

Photo caption

Ayo Ijoma, the Lead Nurse for Bexley Community Health Sercices  virtual ward, based at the Erith Health Centre in Pier Road is pictured (third from the right in the white dress) with her virtual ward team.

Published on 10th August 2010