A number of health services provided by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust are harnessing the power of technology and using innovative methods to maintain patient contact, keep services running, and help cope with winter pressures during the pandemic.

One example is a remote monitoring scheme within the trust’s cardio-respiratory service which is allowing clinical teams to keep track of patients with chronic conditions safely and in the comfort of their own home.

Technology is set up to help patients self-manage their condition at home. Giving them support and reassurance that the monitoring equipment ensures their clinical teams can act swiftly if their health deteriorates. The service has expanded the use of this technology to provide a community-based virtual ward for Covid-19 patients, to enable them to be discharged from hospital sooner and be supported in their own homes for up to 14 days.

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Another innovative form of treatment is being used within the trust’s cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) service. The delivery of this previously face-to-face group has moved to an online format.

The virtual group sessions support education of OCD, treatment methods and strategies. Smaller groups and one-to-one discussions are also held to maximise patient engagement and individualisation of treatment.

Both the adult and children’s speech and language therapy services have also been successfully using video conferencing software to continue assessments and therapy appointments with patients.

Vikas Nautiyal, an adult’s speech and language therapist, works mainly with patients who have neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. His work involves helping patients with communication and swallowing difficulties. He said:

“Video consultations are better than telephone calls because it enables us to see the patient’s body posture/facial movements etc. While it can’t completely replace face-to-face, and isn’t suitable for all patients’ conditions, it is a great tool. In the longer term it will be good to continue this especially for elderly patients where travelling to clinics can be difficult. I have also done some calls with patients in care homes and have been able to carry out swallow observations during dinner times.”

The Leicestershire Recovery College, which offers recovery-focused courses and resources to support the mental and physical wellbeing of people aged 18 and over who have lived experience of mental ill health, as well as their friends, relatives or carers, has also moved online.

They have switched from classroom sessions to virtual teaching via a web-based meetings programme, providing telephone support for students; networking and sharing resources through a closed Facebook group and providing free resources and information on the Trust’s website including an online mindfulness course and ‘gratitude tips’ from one of their tutors.

Avinash Hiremath, LPT medical director, said: “The use of such technology is allowing us to continue to monitor and support our patients, with the aim of reducing the risk of hospital admissions by providing health and wellbeing care in their own home. Most importantly these patients have felt supported during the pandemic whether that is in the home, in virtual clinics or through face to face clinics when they really need them.”