The Isle of Wight NHS Trust has opened a new 14-bed Community Unit, which it says will help ease winter pressures and support people to leave hospital as soon as they are able to.

The Trust, which provides ambulance, hospital, community and mental health services on the Island, announced the new nurse-led unit as part of its plan to manage increased demand during the winter months and to support people to leave hospital.

Alice Webster, Nursing Director at Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said:

“This is fantastic news for our patients and for the wider community.

“Investing in community services is one of our top priorities because it will help people to live healthy and independent lives.

“Hospitals are very busy places during the winter months and we want to do everything that we possibly can to help make sure that people are supported to leave hospital as soon as they are able to.

“We are looking forward to seeing the positive difference that this new unit will make for our community.”

The unit, based on the site of the former Compton Ward at St Mary’s Hospital, will care for people who need nursing support and a period of rest and convalescence before they can leave hospital.

The NHS team will work alongside an Activities Coordinator and Living Well support from Age UK.

The hospital says the unit has been funded by part of the £1.192 million additional money made available to support the local NHS through winter.

The Unit, which has a large day room and group dining table to encourage people to move and interact, opened on January 6 and is now fully operational with 14 beds.

People will be discharged from hospital and referred to the Community Unit, which is being run as a standalone unit supporting people who are medically fit to leave hospital but who may be waiting for social care support or who may need nursing care as they continue their recovery before going home.

Visiting time is 2pm to 8pm daily, to create a protected lunch time for patients and to ensure plenty of time for activities to aid recovery and improve people’s mobility.

Isle of Wight NHS Trust also plans to invest in additional IT support for the Community Unit which will help monitor patient’s activity levels in hospital and at home, to track and maximise people’s movement and mobility.

The Isle of Wight Health and Care Plan, published in September, highlighted the need to invest in community services as a key priority for the Island’s health service.

In autumn last year, the Local Care Board, which brings together the NHS, social care, primary care and the community and voluntary sectors, agree to invest £800,000 in strengthening community services.

The investment is designed to support people in their own homes as part of their recovery after a stay in hospital.

It is also being used to place district nurses and therapists into A&E so that they work alongside the social workers who are supporting people to return to their homes rather than spending unnecessary time in hospital.