June 6, 2024

Implementing Virtual Wards in Care Homes: A Practical Guide

Implementing virtual wards in care homes to enhance resident care.

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In a recent webinar, we explored the significant benefits of implementing virtual wards in care homes. This innovative approach allows residents to receive the care they need without leaving their familiar environment. In this blog post, we will outline the key steps to setting up a virtual ward in a care home, share practical tips for implementation, and provide insights from successful case studies.

The Need for Virtual Wards in Care Homes

As highlighted during the webinar, many care home residents are often taken to A&E only to return within 24 hours. This frequent back-and-forth can cause disorientation and additional stress for residents. Virtual wards offer a solution by enabling care homes to provide continuous, high-quality care without unnecessary hospital admissions. This not only improves resident well-being but also reduces pressure on acute care services.

Steps to Implementing a Virtual Ward in Care Homes

Pathway Design and Setup

The first step in implementing a virtual ward is designing the care pathway. This involves:

  • Identifying Objectives: Determine the main goals of the pathway, such as reducing hospital admissions and improving patient monitoring.
  • Defining Patient Criteria: Establish inclusion and exclusion criteria to identify which residents would benefit most from the virtual ward.
  • Creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Develop detailed SOPs outlining the roles and responsibilities of staff, referral processes, and escalation protocols.

Device Provision and Setup

Once the pathway is designed, the next step is to provide the necessary devices and technology:

  • Device Selection: Choose the appropriate medical devices needed for monitoring, such as blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, and tablets.
  • Kit Distribution: Provide a set number of kits per care home or per unit, ensuring they include all necessary equipment and are easily accessible for staff.

Training and Support

Training is crucial to ensure the successful implementation and use of virtual wards:

  • Comprehensive Training Programs: Train care home staff on using the devices and the Doccla Care App. This includes how to take readings, submit data, and respond to alerts.
  • Ongoing Support: Offer continuous support and refresher training to address any issues or questions that arise during the use of the virtual ward.

Practical Tips for Successful Implementation

1. Tailored Questionnaires

Design questionnaires tailored to the needs of care home residents. These can include questions directed at carers, such as whether the resident is experiencing pain or discomfort, and can trigger alerts based on the responses.

2. Efficient Escalation Processes

Establish clear escalation processes to ensure that any critical changes in a resident's health are promptly addressed. This includes defining which staff members are responsible for monitoring alerts and how they should respond.

3. Regular Monitoring and Feedback

Implement regular monitoring to track the effectiveness of the virtual ward. Use feedback from staff and residents to make continuous improvements to the pathway and technology.


During the webinar, we heard from Ross at One Health Lewisham and representatives from Hertfordshire Community Trust. They shared their positive experiences with Doccla's virtual wards, highlighting significant improvements in patient care and reduced hospital admissions. For instance, in Hertfordshire, 43% of care home residents taken to A&E returned within 24 hours. By implementing virtual wards, many of these admissions were avoided, allowing residents to receive care in a more comfortable and familiar environment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a virtual ward?

A virtual ward is a healthcare service that uses technology to monitor and care for patients in their homes or care homes, reducing the need for hospital admissions.

How does Doccla support care homes?

Doccla provides end-to-end support, including pathway design, device provision, training, and ongoing technical and clinical support.

What are the benefits of virtual wards for care homes?

Virtual wards help keep residents in their familiar environment, reduce hospital admissions, and improve overall patient outcomes.

What are the challenges in implementing virtual wards?

Common challenges include initial setup costs, ensuring consistent usage among staff, and integrating with existing care processes.

How can I get started with implementing a virtual ward in my care home?

Contact Doccla for a consultation. We will work with you to design a customised pathway, provide the necessary devices, and train your staff to ensure a smooth implementation.


Implementing virtual wards in care homes is a transformative approach that can significantly improve the quality of care for residents. By following the outlined steps and utilising the support and expertise of Doccla, care homes can successfully integrate this innovative solution, ensuring residents receive continuous, high-quality care in their familiar environment.


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