Avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions: the Wandsworth community ward

This film explores the impact that a community ward can have on the health and wellbeing of older people with complex health care needs. The experience of being supported by the multidisciplinary team that staffs the virtual ward is presented through the stories of Mr Clark and Mr and Mrs Dennison. With a GP at the centre of the team, Wandsworth's approach brings together a social worker, advanced nurse practitioner, pharmacist and community matron and makes effective use of telehealth to monitor the physical wellbeing of individuals. Both Mr Clark and the Dennisons also receive social care support and are strong supporters of the community ward approach. Although the cost impact of this initiative is not yet fully known, anecdotal evidence suggests that it is helping to avoid some hospital admissions, whilst providing improved outcomes for the individuals receiving support.

Messages for practice

  1. Community wards are one way of supporting people with complex health care needs to remain in their own homes and there are examples of this approach round the country.
  2. GP involvement and contribution is crucial and GPs must be part of a multi-disciplinary health and social care team providing access to the full range of health and social care services within the community.
  3. Telehealth and telecare provide an effective way of monitoring the health and safety of individuals and are a key part of Wandsworth’s approach.
  4. Comprehensive and holistic health and social care assessments conducted in the individual’s own home enable a better understanding of their needs and situation, and consequently result in better planning and responses
  5. Anecdotal evidence suggests that community wards help avoid hospital admissions, particularly for those who have previously been admitted frequently.
  6. The approach can also deliver improved outcomes for individuals.

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