Those wishing to die at home are frequently unable to do so. The enhanced medical and nursing support provided by the ‘Virtual Ward’ (VW) offers an alternative to in-patient care, creates a similar sense of ‘emotional safety’ that coming into a hospice can have for patients and family members and facilitates death at home. We aimed to evaluate the experience of VW care involving daily specialist medical and nursing assessment of needs, Monday-Sunday, 8am-8.30pm with overnight support from community colleagues.
Quotes from cases collated from patient feedback and family interview findings, illustrate the experience of VW. ‘S’, who was supported to care for his wife and young children through her death at home, recounted “how amazing each and everyone of the team is. From the initial referral, access team, to the nurse’s visits to the frequency we attended and to each member of staff. I have never known such attentiveness and compassion, it was seamless. I cannot thank everyone enough; I couldn’t have done it without everyone at the Hospice’’.
‘G’ supported his wife at home; he wrote “after many nightmare experiences for us both – it was all handed over to your team, she is close to the end of the road now, I cannot thank you enough for weight you have taken from me, you get a gold star in your jotter from me – she is dying now but we feel so grateful.’’
‘R’ lived in a care home. His profound agitation prevented his grandchildren from visiting and meant staff struggled to support him safely. His wife recalled “After just 8 hours of your service in place – he became so calm and settled, as did the care home staff. His grandchildren were able to visit him as he was dying – you gave my husband his dignity back’’.
The enhanced support of VW extended the emotional safety of hospice care to those dying at home and their families.
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