Specialist team brings hospital to patients' homes

Lee Prothero and the Hospital at Home team
Lee Prothero with some of the Hospital at Home team

Published on 12 September 2019

A team of specialist nurses is bringing hospital treatment to patients’ homes – helping hundreds of people each year leave hospital sooner or even avoid going there at all.

East Kent Hospitals’ Hospital at Home service brings all the expertise and skill of hospital staff to people in the comfort of their own homes, right across east Kent.

A team of 21 senior sisters cover hundreds of miles each week providing in-patient care from blood tests and dressings to IV antibiotics and removing drains – at home.

Lee Prothero, from Hythe, is one of the people to benefit from the service. As a kidney transplant patient, he is vulnerable to infection and often needs strong antibiotics to help him recover.

Without the Hospital at Home team he would need to be in hospital, sometimes for up to eight weeks at a time.

He said: “They are a godsend – it is such a good idea. It’s so much easier than being in hospital. If it wasn’t for them I would be stuck on a ward, looking at four walls.

"Thanks to Hospital at Home I can stay at home where I’m comfortable, I can watch TV and my friends can visit whenever they want.

“It also means that I’m not taking up a hospital bed so someone else who needs it can be treated.”

Lee has a portacath – a device implanted in his chest that is used instead of a needle in his hand or arm to deliver the antibiotics – which remains in place until the end of his treatment.

A specialist nurse will visit daily to deliver the antibiotics and take observations such as his temperature and oxygen levels at the same time.

And if he has other appointments or commitments, he can meet the team in the hospital’s discharge lounge and receive the same treatment, then get on with the rest of his day.

He said: “I can be there at 8am and will be done by 9am. It’s a fantastic service.

“I’m never worried about getting sicker, because I can always call them if I start to feel worse and go straight back to the renal ward.

“There is great communication between the doctors and the Hospital at Home nurses so you never lose the connection with the ward.”

The Hospital at Home service works like a virtual ward, so patients will remain under the care of their named consultant who will continue to monitor their condition and check their prescriptions.

The team can help people get home sooner or even avoid coming into hospital at all.

Ward manager Tiffany Carnegie said: “Our service is unique because we can provide one-to-one care, in the comfort of someone’s home, for as long as they need it.

“Our nurses are all highly experienced and acutely or surgically trained and we work with some of the most complex patients, with a range of different diagnoses.

“We get great support from the IV access teams who help by putting in lines so people can be treated at home – often the same day. It’s hugely popular with our patients and 99 per cent of them leave us five star reviews.”