WHEN 82-year-old Margaret Hawkins fell down the stairs at home earlier this month, she feared she would never walk again let alone be out of hospital for Christmas.
But thanks to doctors, nurses and therapists at Basildon University Hospital – and a service which gets patients back to the comfort of their own home quickly and safely – Mrs Hawkins will be able to spend the holiday season with her family.
Healthcare at Home provides ‘virtual wards’ for patients who remain under the care of a hospital consultant but do not need to remain in a hospital setting.
They receive regular home visits from a nurse or physiotherapist and continue their treatment which could include medication, blood tests and physiotherapy.
Evidence shows that patients recover more quickly when care is provided at home.
Patients are less likely to be readmitted to hospital, the risk of infection is reduced and quality of life is improved.
Mrs Hawkins, of Stanford-le-Hope, said: “If it wasn’t for the hospital and this service I don’t think I would have walked again – I would definitely not have been home for Christmas. To be out of hospital and getting better at this time of year means more than I can say.
“My husband died in hospital last year a few days before Christmas. He was a wonderful husband and we would have been married 50 years in March. But he is with me at home – all of his photos and memories are in our home and it’s heaven to be here.”
Basildon University Hospital and Healthcare at Home work closely together to identify patients who can benefit from the service. In November the partnership meant there were 450 nights when patients stayed at home. Between November 2014 and November 2015, there were a total of 4,529 nights when patients were able to stay in their home rather than in a hospital bed.
Mrs Hawkins added: “It’s helped me a lot to be able to go home and recuperate. As soon as I got home and met the people who were helping me I relaxed and decided to help them as much as I could. I have always been a resolute person but the help I have had has made it all possible.”
Diane Sarkar, director of nursing, said: “This is a positive service which benefits everybody concerned. Most importantly patients like Mrs Hawkins get to be at home in a familiar environment where their friends and family can visit. Of course, that’s especially important at this time of year.
“Hospitals like ours are under increasing pressure at the moment and beds are in high demand. Healthcare at Home helps us to better manage that demand and ensures our beds are available for those people who need them most.”