Picture: Lachlan McKean, 14, a Hospital in the Home patient receiving treatment

January 30, 2017

Some children and families can now receive hospital care in their own home thanks to a new family-friendly service launched by Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD).

With evidence showing children often recover more quickly in familiar surroundings, Royal North Shore, Mona Vale and Hornsby hospitals have recently started offering the Paediatric Hospital in the Home (PHITH) service.

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​Under the service, infants, children and young people who need daily care such as wound dressings or drugs administered can be visited by a health professional at home or school every day, or at daily hospital visits.

Dr Jean Lim, a paediatrician who heads the service, said it was a wonderful alternative to in-hospital care for some children and families.

"Until this service was launched, we had no choice but to admit children to hospital, or for children to remain in hospital for extended periods where they can sometimes feel isolated from family and friends," Dr Lim said.

"PHITH aims to make hospital care less disruptive to them, their schooling, and their families. There has been comprehensive research showing being treated at home, in familiar surroundings, can make a child’s recovery quicker.

"PHITH means the families of children and young people who need continuing treatment but are well enough to be cared for at home now have that option."

Children will only be eligible for the service if:

• their hospital doctor recommends it;

• they have 24-hour adult supervision at home;

• their parent/carer has access to a telephone at all times; and

• they live within the NSLHD area.

The types of conditions which may be treated at home include those requiring intravenous medications, some respiratory illnesses, skin ailments like eczema, or wounds which need dressing.

Children treated under the PHITH service are still technically hospital inpatients, meaning they will have a daily review of their condition, can access all services provided by the hospital, or return to the hospital as required.

One of the first families to benefit from the scheme was the McKeans of North Turramurra. Son Lachlan, 14, developed an ankle infection in early January and underwent surgery at Hornsby Hospital, then spent two weeks on an intravenous antibiotic drip.

His mum Katherine said PHITH had made the extended treatment period much more bearable for Lachlan, and manageable for the family. With two other boys in the family, including an 11-year-old, running back and forth to hospital was difficult.

"It’s been great to have him at home. Hospitals can be lonely and it’s been lovely to have him eating with the family and watching TV," Mrs McKean said.

The new service is a collaboration between hospital paediatric departments and the Acute Post-Acute Care home nursing service.