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Clinical care in the home eases the pressure on Portsmouth Hospital

Sciensus has been the leading provider of complex clinical care and medication services to the NHS for 30 years. Steve Thomas, Director of Nursing, Surgery & Outpatients and Workforce at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, explains how our partnership has developed over many years, and the benefits it brings to his team and his patients.

“I’ve worked in my current role, being responsible for surgery outpatient care, for around three years. Managing the relationship with Sciensus is part of this role, although it’s a well-established relationship that has been in place for many years,” he explains.

Sciensus provides a raft of clinical services in patients’ homes, including administering intravenous antibiotics, changing dressings and collar care nursing (such as skin care and hygiene for patients wearing a neck collar). This means that patients don’t have to be in an acute hospital bed to continue receiving a high standard of clinical care.

The benefits of home care

“There’s lots of evidence to show that patients are best cared for in the home environment,” says Steve. “It typically reduces their chances of developing an infection and it means that patients are happier as they’re at home and can go back to some degree of normality.

“From a practical point of view, it also means that we have more hospital beds available. Some patients will be on intravenous antibiotics for six to eight weeks, so that’s six to eight weeks that they don’t need to be using a hospital bed if they can receive this treatment at home.

“Acute hospital beds are always in short supply – the Sciensus service essentially provides 29 beds in the community, which means we have 29 extra beds available in the hospital.

“At the moment, we’re creaking at the edges in hospital, with the many pressures faced by the NHS right now. Without that support giving us some extra beds in the ward, it would be so much more difficult to manage. The knowledge that a patient can be safe and at home is very reassuring.”

Developing a close working relationship

Once a month Steve meets up with the Sciensus team managers to review the key performance metrics and to discuss any challenges with process or pathways.

“We have a close working relationship,” he says. “I find the team to be flexible and adjustable and able to find solutions when the situation arises. For example, during the pandemic when circumstances changed very quickly, we put a rapid response in place to give patients extra support at home, such as home testing before and after surgery.

“Inevitably, problems do arise from time to time, but we’re always able to discuss them and find a solution together, rather than turning to a contract and picking over the points in fine detail.

“We also have a good, strong governance relationship in place, which gives me the assurance I need that everything that goes on in patients’ homes is well reported.”

Providing one seamless service

The feedback Steve and his team receive from patients is very positive. “As far as the patients are concerned, they’re receiving one seamless service. They’re complimentary about the care they receive and the professionalism of the team that goes into their home to care for them.

“It’s important to me that we share the same values and priorities and that we work closely together as one team. We both focus on quality and getting things right, and as a team we’re always looking for the right things to do in terms of budget and patient care.”

Kathryn Young, Clinical Services Director for Sciensus’ Early Supported Discharge Services, works with the team at Portsmouth. “We have a strong relationship with Portsmouth based on open, honest and effective collaboration, which we value as a company,” she says. “I work closely with the Portsmouth Trust leaders to ensure we meet our service level agreement and deliver the very best for patients and the Trust in terms of clinical quality, efficiency and value for money.

“When the Trust has had challenges, we have offered flexible pathways to accommodate their needs, often at short notice. There are some major benefits for patients being treated at home. They are in a very safe environment and able to minimise exposure to coronavirus, and recovery is faster for people who receive treatment and care in their own home with their personal support network around them.

“The feedback we receive every month from our patients demonstrates how much our service is valued. We look forward to supporting patients in different ways as the current pandemic continues to change the way we work in healthcare.”