The number of chronic disease patients in Hong Kong has been on the rise due to a steady growth in the ageing population.

In order to prevent unplanned hospital re-admissions and enhance treatment quality by allowing these patients to receive treatment in the comfort of their own home, Hong Kong Sanitorium & Hospital is set to become the first private hospital in the city introducing community nursing services in mid-2017.

The decision was made after 10% to 20% of the patients indicated in a survey conducted by the hospital last year that they are interested in using community nursing services.

“Our community nursing services will include chronic disease management such as renal care, as well as other nursing services such as wound care and medication management,” said Dr Chan Woon Tong, Head of Department of Women’s Health and Obstetrics at Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital.

“One senior registered community nurse will be in charge of the program, providing four to five times of services a day. Depending on the demand, we will consider hiring more nurses to support the service,” he added.

Role of community nurses for the patients’ smooth recovery

Post-hospitalisation nursing care is an important factor during the road to recovery. Community nurses are scheduled to patients’ homes on a regular basis and perform procedures such as drug administration, stoma and catheter changes.

These regular visits also provide a window of opportunity for nurses to assess patients’ health conditions, preventing unplanned hospital re-admissions by effective communication with the patients. Ultimately, this can enhance patients’ quality of life while achieving a reduction in overall healthcare costs simultaneously.

By providing regular reports on patients’ well-being to their physicians, community nurses also ensure patients continue to receive holistic care even outside the hospital environment. This is particularly beneficial for elderly patients who either live far away from the hospitals or are handicapped in their movements.

The benefits of providing community nursing services to patients have also been proven in various studies. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing (JCN) in 2007 pointed out community-nurse supported post-discharge programme was effective in preserving the sense of independence for patients with chronic heart failure while at the same time, it was found as likely to reduce the number of unplanned re-admissions.

Community nurses provide mental support to chronic disease patients

For chronic patients, there is a long journey to recovery and it can be very challenging in terms of both physical and psychological aspects. While traditionally doctors focus more on providing treatment in hospital setting, community nurses tend to become the patients’ trusted and closest partner since they have the most contact with patients throughout the recovery.

Additionally, since the nursing services usually take place at patients’ home, it would be easier for community nurses to facilitate discussions between patients, their respective physicians and family members. In this case, apart from guiding the family members on how to take care of the patients, community nurses can also communicate their worries and concerns to the doctors.

Community nursing services in Hong Kong

Besides Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital, public hospitals in Hong Kong also provide community nursing services:

1. Community nursing services (CNS) – CNS conducts comprehensive health assessment, formulate, implement and evaluate nursing therapeutics for the patients according to their unique needs
2. Community Psychiatric Nursing Service (CPNS) – Apart from providing nursing care and treatment to psychiatric patients, CPNS also provide crisis intervention service. MIMS

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Sources:養和社康護士上門護理 私院首推