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Hospital at Home
Hospital at Home
The Cambridgeshire Health Authority was interested in establishing a Hospital at Home service which in the 1970s was being implemented in France. The Sainsbury Family Trust put up an initial sum of money and in 1978 a pilot scheme was set up in Peterborough. In certain circumstances patients may be given the choice of being nursed in hospital or in their own homes. The choice is determined by the patient's GP and it is strictly a nursing scheme. There is nothing for the patient to pay.
The Hospital at Home scheme is run under the direction of the district nurse but it is not suitable for everyone. It does not provide household help, shopping or baby sitting but once admitted the patient is provided with full home hospital care with the use of whatever equipment and nursing that is necessary for their particular case. The advantages of the Hospital at Home scheme are that the patient need not be separated from their loved ones and their familiar surroundings have proved to be beneficial for a more speedy recovery.
For example, a female patient with a prolapsed intervertebral disc was admitted into the scheme because she wanted to breast feed her baby while in traction. She also had another child with whom she wished to maintain contact. Had she gone into hospital it is possible that her children would have had to go into care. Children with longer-term illnesses need not be separated from their familiar surroundings and their parents and this has also been proved to be beneficial. Cases of patients recovering from strokes benefit also if the husband or wife left behind could not cope on their own and would need a great deal of support from Social Services.
Being nursed at home encourages recovery when the patient is in familiar surroundings and reduces the stress associated with hospitalisation. Hospital beds are also made available for other patients when the Hospital at Home scheme is not suitable for the patients who might occupy them. A terminal case recorded at the local hospital estimated that 32 patients from the waiting list were able to use the bed she had vacated when she was nursed by Hospital at Home. In fracture cases, particularly those of the femur, hospital beds have been saved for up to six or seven weeks while the treatment is being carried out at home by the consultant orthopaedic surgeon and physiotherapists in the home environment.
Another benefit of the Hospital at Home scheme is that district nurses are able to use their full range of skills. This increases their value in the eyes of the public, many of whom see district nurses only as givers of baths and injections. Patients in their home environment are free of the risk of cross infection and pressure sores. Greater attention can be paid to the mental health of patients and their families. Visits from local religious leaders can be arranged to reduce spiritual pain. Friends, relatives and neighbours can visit more regularly than hospital visiting times would allow. This overcomes the problem of the elderly visitors using often inconvenient and expensive public transport.
The Hospital at Home Friends Group was formed in 1981 to specifically raise funds to keep the Hospital at Home scheme operating within the defined Health Authority of Peterborough. Since that time considerable funds have been raised to pay for the nursing hours and continues to raise funds voluntarily to ensure the continued smooth functioning of the scheme for the sick of Peterborough and district.