St Rocco’s launches Palliative Virtual Ward in Warrington


ST ROCCO’S Hospice has launched a Palliative Virtual Ward in partnership with local providers, after a successful bid to be the lead provider for a 12-month pilot.

The partnership with Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bridgewater Community Healthcare, Warrington Borough Council, Warrington CCG, Warrington Together partnership and health, social and VCSE partners, will be providing technology to help people monitor their own symptoms in the comfort of their own home with ongoing clinical support.

The Palliative Virtual Ward (PVW) is where patients are looked after at home by health care professionals with oversight from the Warrington Integrated Palliative care Hub.

Online platform for monitoring

Patients provided with a smartphone are given access to the DOCOBO telehealth platform to log their symptoms and soft monitoring data as well as responses to pre-determined ward round question set. Patients have a face-to-face visit on day 1 by the Integrated Palliative Care Team. Then, their telehealth information is reviewed on a virtual ward round by integrated Palliative care nurses daily

Sara-Marie Black, Chief Operations officer at St. Rocco’s said, “We are very excited about this innovative and new service. It allows us to utilise technology to further expand the care we provide away from the Hospice and ensure choice for the people of Warrington who need our services, whether via our in-patient unit or at home.”

Patients to benefit from extra level of surveillance

Dr Jude Raper, Consultant in Palliative Medicine at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said, “As the hospital specialist palliative care team, we are referring patients onto the virtual ward who have the care and treatment plans they need to be at home, but who would benefit from that extra layer of surveillance and support to help keep our patients where they would like to be.

“They may be returning home from a hospital stay or may have been assessed in the Frailty Assessment Unit or Emergency Department and are able to avoid hospital admission altogether. We are also referring patients from our outpatient clinic who will benefit from some extra monitoring, for example when a new medication is started.

“Our close links and contact into our Palliative Virtual Ward ensure that patients are appropriately referred and that the whole team receive regular updates- plans can always be changed quickly if needs be.”

Keeping patients out of hospital

Dr Melanie Brooks, from the Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said “The Palliative Virtual Ward is a collaborative approach between Palliative care services aimed at keeping people where they wish to be. The service will deliver enhanced monitoring of symptoms or psychosocial needs during periods of increased difficulty for patients and their loved ones, offering reassurance, support, and a more responsive approach to symptoms.

“I hope that we will be able to enable more patients to stay out of hospital and at home with their loved ones. It opens up so much potential for community-based services to develop with a focus on patient care.”

Great milestone

“Palliative virtual ward is one of the greatest milestones in the collaborative Palliative care services across Warrington. This is one of the first projects in the country and certainly the first one in Northwest of England. The service aims to enhance palliative patients’ journey by providing continuity of care with additional support from an experienced team facilitated by advanced use of technology.

“We are proud to say Palliative virtual ward is part of our commitment to ever improving Palliative care services in the community we live in. Regular reviews of the service alongside using patient and carer feedback will make sure the service continues to improve and meet the needs of patients,” added Dr Suma Kuna, Clinical lead for Cancer and Palliative care at Warrington CCG.

Rob Halhead, COO at Docobo concluded” Really exciting to work on this project; This is going to be so valuable to so many people who are in palliative care, to ensure they get the support they need. The team are a delight to work with and we’re looking forward to progressing this valuable project.”


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