A community virtual ward model to support older persons with complex health care and social care needs.

BACKGROUND: Globally the older population is increasing rapidly. As a result there is an increase in frail older persons living within the community, with increased risks of a hospital admission and higher mortality and morbidity rates. Due to complexity of care, health care professionals face challenges in providing effective case management and avoiding unplanned admissions to hospital. A community virtual ward (CVW) model was developed to assist health care professionals to support older persons at home during periods of illness and/or functional decline.

METHODS: A quantitative observational study was conducted to examine if a CVW model of care reduced unplanned hospital admissions and emergency department (ED) presentations in 54 patients over a 12-month period. The sign-rank test examined matched data on bed days, ED presentations, and unplanned hospital admissions pre- and post-CVW implementation. Other risk factors for admission to hospital were examined using the Mann-Whitney test pre-and post-CVW admission, including falls, living alone, and cognition. Correlations between hospital admission avoidances and unplanned hospital admissions and ED presentations were tested using Spearman's

RESULTS: There was a reduction in ED presentations post-CVW admission (

CONCLUSION: Through an integrated approach to care, a CVW model in the care of older persons can reduce ED presentations and unplanned hospital admissions.