The importance of bringing health and social care services together, or integrating care, is an area of almost complete political consensus – and the benefits have been widely recognised and reported.
Our work at PPL on People Powered Health highlighted that building on the concept of co-production, where solutions are designed and delivered with the patient, benefits both patients and service users. It also reduces costs to the health and social care sector. This work drew on six projects around the UK that put patients at the centre of their own care. It demonstrated a compelling case for change – by better engaging patients and service users, you can achieve better quality outcomes, and reduce demand in the system.
But there are still challenges to overcome before integrated care is a reality across the UK. The Local Government Association (LGA) has appointed ‘Integrating Care’ to develop a practical support package for local authority and health leaders to help with this journey. The support will enable local authorities and their NHS partners to understand the impact of different integrated care models, in terms of cost and service user journey. This will support plans to bring health and social care services together and help make integrated care a reality.
As a senior adviser with Integrating Care, I am working with Health and Wellbeing Boards across the country to share examples of how integrated care is delivering results, and to create a community of organisations committed to making fundamental changes. The partners for this project include NHS England, ADASS, ADCS, Public Health England, Monitor, and the NHS Confederation.
The work we are doing with the LGA and its partners is about providing practical help to identify opportunities, overcome barriers, and establish the new ways of working that promise the biggest improvements.
At the heart of this work lies the recognition that many local authorities have made good progress in bringing services together. Learning from what has been achieved, and making it the norm, is our best chance of meeting the challenges ahead.
Expenditure has dramatically increased in the NHS and adult care, which in turn has raised the expectations around service provision. But we also know that savings can be made if we become smarter around how we approach an individual’s care.
We must bring these services together. But the reality is that the closer we get to integration, the clearer both the opportunities and challenges become. Organisations each have different cultures, practices and infrastructure, which can be quite distinct, even though their objectives are shared.
Health and Wellbeing Boards will be crucial to fixing this. A quiet revolution within the Health and Social Care Act, the Boards provide the one vital place where the right people come together with a view across the whole, and a remit to make change. As such, they provide a genuine opportunity to make real the transformation that is currently reshaping care provision across the UK and a crucial space for sharing the ideas and solutions that will deliver a successful framework for delivering services in the future.
This article first appeared on the Local Government News website: http://www.localgov.co.uk/index.cfm?method=analysis.item&id=111041