For some patients, home is better than hospital

  9 July 2024  NWMPHN   

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) is collaborating with Melbourne’s major metropolitan hospitals to help patients with certain conditions receive high-level treatment in their own homes.

For suitable cases, hospital care delivered by visiting teams of health professionals provides a less stressful pathway to recovery than admission to a ward.

It also has the benefit of optimising ward beds for patients needing more intensive support.

To help make hospital care at home a reality, NWMPHN is working with its partners in the West Metro Health Service Partnership (WMHSP) to boost awareness of the benefits for patients. The WMHSP consists of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the Royal Women’s Hospital, Western Health, Mercy Health and the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Depending on the clinical and housing circumstances prevailing, hospital in the home services might be beneficial for people:

  • recovering from surgery
  • being treated for infections, wounds or chronic diseases
  • receiving care for medical conditions related to ageing
  • undergoing rehabilitation or cancer care
  • receiving maternity or paediatric care.

“The frequency of health team visits to each home depends entirely on what each patient needs,” said Dr Jeannie Knapp, NWMPHN’s GP adviser.

“There’s significant research from Australia and elsewhere that shows hospital home care has strong patient benefits. These include comfort, familiarity, less stress, more independence, a feeling of safety, and fewer costs.

“Indeed, only recently, clinicians at the Royal Children’s Hospital found that home hospital care for children with bronchitis resulted in better outcomes for the patients, their families, and the hospital itself.”

A set of resources has been produced to encourage patients, GPs and hospital clinicians to consider hospital care at home. They look at the importance not only of clinical diagnosis, but also of taking into account each patient’s concerns and those of families and carers.

The resources include information sheets, social media assets and videos describing case studies.

“The aim is to build awareness of hospital care at home as a viable option across the public health care system,” said Dr Knapp.

“As GPs we may not be able to influence the outcome of admissions to hospital at home services, but we still have a role to play.

“If we know a patient is going to be hospitalised and might be eligible to receive their care at home, we can start an early conversation about the benefits of this.”

“It’s crucial to promote positive patient experiences and allay any concerns. Because, ultimately, this is all about supporting each person’s pathway to recovery in ways that optimise comfort and safety.”

Hospital care at home resources for GPs, hospital clinicians and patients can be downloaded here.