16 APR

Hundreds of patients with long term  conditions will benefit from technology to help keep them safe at home – and to minimise the chances of them contracting Covid-19.

Around 800 people with heart failure or the lung condition COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) will be offered a package including a tablet computer, blood pressure monitor, weighing scales (for heart failure patients) and oxygen saturation monitor to use at home.

The results will be fed to specialist nurses working for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT), who can see at a glance if a patient is progressing well, needs advice, or extra treatment.

The clinicians can conduct video consultations with individual patients to assess how they are doing, their general appearance, and to give reassurance from a familiar face.

The project builds upon LPT’s previous “telehealth” experience which catered for up to 25 patients at a time. It proved to be a cost-effective way to keep patients healthy and out of hospital. However the new generation of equipment – with the video consultation facility – is being significantly extended because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zoe Harris, LPT’s integrated cardio-respiratory clinical lead, said: “Our patients are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. We have had to stop them coming to outpatient clinics to minimise the risks of infection, and we are only reviewing patients at home who have an urgent clinical need. We are maintaining contact with our patients on the telephone.

“The use of this new technology will allow us to continue to case manage our patients by close monitoring which should reduce the risk of them having an emergency hospital admission. They would hope to avoid that at the best of times, and it is even more important for them during the current pandemic. Most importantly patients will feel supported during the pandemic.”

Although 800 patients are being offered to take part in the project, LPT recognise it won’t be right for everyone – for example those with dementia or with visual impairment.

The equipment is being supplied by Leicester-based Spirit Health. Chris Barker, CEO of Spirit Health, said: “The situation we find ourselves in with Covid-19 emphasises why Spirit exists – to make health easy. Right now, that’s more important than ever before. We are proud to be in a position to support both our NHS and our vulnerable people and will continue to respond and adapt to this unprecedented situation.”

The cost of the project is funded by the Ageing Well programme. Ageing Well is a national programme for delivering the NHS Long Term Plan’s priorities in community services, delivering a two hour response to a home crisis and starting reablement within two days.

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