The UK homecare industry needs to overcome potential resistance from clinical staff to enable greater uptake of its services, the National Clinical Homecare Association conference was told yesterday.
Several speakers at the Birmingham event were involved in homecare programmes, which aim to transfer patient care from hospitals to their home environment, and discussed how healthcare professionals need to better understand the benefits the services offer in order for them to allow patients to be treated from home.
Gill Donovan, a clinical nurse specialist who led a homecare service for patients using Roche's breast cancer drug Herceptin at the Velindre NHS Trust in Wales, spoke of the programme's positive benefits, including greatly improved patient satisfaction, but explained that changing the attitude of hospital staff was key to developing the service.
Possible reasons for resistance suggested by Donovan included staff fearing for their jobs, as well as a belief that it was necessary to see high risk patients on a regular basis in a hospital environment.
To implement the “paradigm shift” that was needed, Donovan introduced a programme to educate staff of the benefits of home care, including freeing up hospital beds for more urgent cases.
Sometimes just explaining the positives in an accessible way was all that was needed and Donovan told PMLiVE that it was useful to compare the situation where two patients can be treated at the same time - one at home and one in hospital - to a two-for-one deal at a supermarket.
These comments were backed by another speaker, Dr Brian Thompson, who led an evaluation of a home antiviral therapy service at Nottingham University Hospital for patients with hepatitis C.
This study concluded that homecare was just as effective at treating patients with the virus, and was able to reach more patients who had previously found it hard to attend treatment sessions, all with an improved adherence.
Acknowledging healthcare staff concerns that resurfaced during the conference's panel debate, which debated the opportunities and challenges of what is becoming an increasingly large and important industry in the UK as the NHS looks to cut costs and move care out of hospitals.
Carol McCall, director of integrated governance at the NCHA, said it was important to provide effective communications so all stakeholders can properly understand both the risks and benefits of home care, while the idea of sharing best practice in home care throughout the UK was also suggested as a means to increase healthcare staff's confidence in the system.