Care home patients receive virtual ward rounds
By Rob Freeman | 29th April 2020
GPs are ensuring patients in Gloucestershire care home are receiving the right medical support during the coronavirus pandemic with the introduction of virtual ward rounds.
Strong working relationships have enabled a swift move to a digital way of working with most rounds carried out by practices' lead GP for the care home and the senior nurse or carer.
The ward rounds range from a phone call to discuss all the patients with a focus on those highlighted by the care home to a video ward round.
Staff visit each patient with a tablet computer and the GP is able to speak with each one in turn.
GPs are in a position to discuss any resulting issues with other clinicians, nurses and carers at the care home.
Dr Jeremy Welch, urgent care lead at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and a local GP, said: "These are unprecedented times and as health and care teams we have to be ready to adapt to situations as they unfold.
"It's really important we protect residents in care homes as much as we can as they can be amongst the most vulnerable people in our communities.
"This doesn't mean that they won't get the care that they need during the Covid-19 pandemic."
He continued: "We need to be certain, as care givers that we don't put residents at increased risk by visiting them unnecessarily.
"For this reason, many GP practices and care homes have introduced virtual ward rounds. This gives us the chance to understand clearly what medical help is needed by undertaking a thorough and safe review."
Doctors are visiting care homes and residents where necessary using personal protective equipment, sometimes as a result of identifying a medical need through a virtual ward round.
In every case, if a resident needs face-to-face medical support this will be arranged.
Many GP practices are planning to increase the regularity of virtual ward rounds and there is capacity to step this up to daily rounds in the event of COVIS-19 cases.
Nick Coates, registered manager at Knightsbridge Lodge Care Home in Cheltenham, said: "Understandably this is a time of great anxiety for families and carers, and it's important that we can reassure them that as health and care professionals we are absolutely committed to giving our residents the best possible support and care.
"We cannot control every aspect of the COVID-19 outbreak, but we can certainly make sure that we are doing all we can to minimise the spread of the virus, respond quickly to people's health and care needs and keep them safe whenever we can."
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