Supporting Safe Care in the Home
Many people with complex and serious conditions are now cared for at home rather than in hospital or residential care. Caring for oneself at home, or being cared for by others, allows people to maintain independence, quality of life and contact with family and friends. However, the well-intentioned provision and transfer of care to the home also carries significant, but largely unexplored risks.
Healthcare is in effect exporting risk from the hospital to the home. People manage multiple health conditions at home and face significant safety challenges, including managing medication. wound management and navigating health and social services. Patients and carers are increasingly managing clinical tasks that would formerly only have been carried out by professionals. Carers and family members also have to be alert to possible deterioration, judge when to seek help, assess the need for emergency care and coordinate care from multiple, and often highly fragmented services. Risks to safety therefore accrue from numerous sources and over time.
Improving safety in hospital has been challenging, even though hospitals are highly regulated and staffed by people with substantial professional training. Improving safety in the informal environment of the home will require a different approach. We cannot rely on regulation, checklists and imposed solutions. Rather we need to place the patient centre stage as the arbiter of their care. We need to provide support, adapt solutions to different types of home, provide training, and facilitate a rapid response to deterioration. Our focus in this theme will be on understanding both the benefits and risks of home care and on developing interventions to support patients and carers in delivering safe care at home.
Click on the video below to learn more about the Supporting Safe Care in the Home Theme with Senior Research Fellow, Dr Raabia Sattar.