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Getting physiotherapists involved in the care of patients with the lung disease bronchiectasis in their own homes could have significant benefits for patients themselves and the wider NHS, according to a recent study.
Over the past two years, Dorset County Hospital has been treating many of its bronchiectasis patients via a care-at-home service. The nature of this lung disease means that patients are very vulnerable to infection, with this risk often increasing if they have to interact with too many other people in a hospital environment.
Speaking at the British Thoracic Society winter meeting earlier this month, Dr Jennifer Graves, a respiratory consultant at the hospital, explained that getting healthcare professionals including physiotherapists involved in bronchiectasis patients' care at home helped to significantly reduce the average length of hospital stays for these individuals.
Prior to Dorset County Hospital beginning this trial, the typical amount of time spent in hospital by bronchiectasis patients came in at 9.1 days, but after receiving care in their own homes, this dropped to just 2.5 days on average.
With these patients tending to require multiple hospital stays every year, provision to care for them at home could significantly enhance their quality of life, improving their overall wellbeing.
As a result, this saved the NHS £1,140 per hospital stay, which Dr Graves highlighted could add up to a significant sum, potentially in the region of millions of pounds, over the course of a single year.
Dr Graves explained: "Our study has revealed a whole range of benefits of treating this group of lung disease patients in the community.
"By ensuring consultant-level involvement and careful daily monitoring by a highly skilled NHS team, we have been able to free up much-needed hospital beds whilst improving care for our patients."
Altogether, 98 per cent of the bronchiectasis patients treated at home as part of the scheme said they would recommend the same service to someone else. In comparison, 83 per cent of patients said they'd recommend their care after being treated on a hospital ward, which demonstrates a clear preference for home-based care.
Written by Mathew Horton
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