HEALTH bosses are considering closing some of the city’s mental health beds and replacing them with an at-home service.

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust has revealed plans which could see one of Worcester’s mental health wards closed and replaced with a ‘hospital at home’ service.

The ‘hospital at home’ service, which provides care for people across the county with mental health issues such as schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, severe depression and personality disorder, was established in response to the Covid pandemic in a bid to keep older people out of hospital.

The health and care trust has asked the public for its views on the proposals which, if backed, would see the Athelon ward closed, and the at-home service continue.

Ward-based care would continue at the New Haven site in Bromsgrove regardless of the outcome.

The pilot ‘hospital at home’ scheme has been paid for using the money available from the closure of the Athelon ward during the pandemic.

Health bosses carried out an assessment of the at-home service during its pilot run and found “no negative impacts.”

The trust said: “At presentation, it was felt that overall the impacts would be positive for most groups, with no negative impacts identified.

“Primarily, the positive impacts emerged from the view that there are benefits to being cared for in a familiar home environment by staff who have the skills and experience of working with this age group.

“It was also recognised that a change in the care environment can be traumatic for many and even more so for the elderly and those with a disability, particularly if the home has been adapted for need whether that be for a physical or mental health problem.

“So too there can sometimes be delays in finding a bed for some patients, whereas care at home can commence quickly.”

Of the 16 members of staff surveyed, more than a third scored the service five out of ten or less with two-thirds giving the at-home service six or above.

Patients and carers surveyed by the trust said they felt hospital and ward care were “considered good services” as it took a lot of stress away and that consistency of staff was greater in a ward than in the at-home service.

Others said the benefit of home-based care was that it was familiar and meant patients, families and carers could be together which was less stressful than being apart for some.