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Vulnerable children in Cornwall get virtual support amid pandemic

Vulnerable children in Cornwall get virtual support amid pandemic

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 6:19am 30th July 2020.

Vulnerable children in Cornwall who suffer from eating disorders are continuing to get virtual support amid the coronavirus crisis.

A new app has been developed to help youngsters, by providing  both physical and mental health services.

Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has partnered with healthcare technology firm Tunstall Healthcare in the new initiative.

It uses technology from Tunstall Healthcare to coordinate its Digital Health Service and offer treatment and support to children over the age of 11 with a range of eating disorders, including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Restrictive Eating Disorder.

Bosses say that when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Tunstall developed robust propositions to respond to the emergency, offering healthcare providers technology solutions including remote health monitoring, to assist with caring for vulnerable people. 

The normal care pathway offered by Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust includes children living with eating disorders attending a clinic to monitor their vital signs and symptoms. However, due to the restrictions in place during Covid-19 an alternative approach has been developed. 


How does it work?

Tunstall Healthcare and the Trust worked together to introduce remote health monitoring for patients, using the myMobile™ app and ICP ‘triagemanager®’ software to enable clinicians to support patients in their own homes.

Patients use devices to take weekly readings of their vital signs including blood pressure, temperature and weight.

They are also required to answer a range of symptom-related questions including whether they’ve experienced fainting episodes and the ability to stand from a squatting position.

“The children we support are extremely vulnerable, and any delay or interruption to the treatment they receive could have serious implications for their recovery.

"Being able to deploy a solution so rapidly to enable us to continue helping them has been a real relief; it’s been amazing just how quickly we’ve been able to adapt.”

Michele Boyce, Service Lead Nurse at Kernow Health

teenager young person

The new initiative has enabled the Trust to collect patient data through the myMobile app where any breaches of parameters set for individual patients raise an alert on the system. Clinicians can log into a secure portal and ensure patients are prioritised according to the need for intervention. Individual readings can also be viewed over time to monitor progress, with the standard monitoring period expected to be 26 weeks.

Although still in its infancy, the 32 existing caseload patients deemed to be at high risk have already been referred, and feedback from the clinicians involved has been extremely positive. The outcomes are currently still being measured, however it’s expected that hospital admissions will be reduced, early intervention will increase, self-management will improve and patients will benefit from better health and wellbeing.

“The use of Digital Health Technology to support patients is a key part of the novel coronavirus standard operating procedure. We have been able to use a Quality Improvement approach so that we can collect and analyse data, to test change.

"This has allowed us to introduce, develop and refine the service provided to this specific patient group.

"Early feedback from clinicians, patients and carers is positive and I hope that we will be able to fully review towards the end of this year this new model of support.”

Vicki Slade, Digital Health Lead at Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

You can find out more here.

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