Health and social care is integrating.

The way care is delivered in England is being remodelled, and the 2017 NHS Expo in Manchester showcased some progress towards a more integrated health & social care system. If you haven’t already heard about the NHS Five Year Forward View (5YFV) then you might want to check up on that here or here.

In other words, we’re moving away from merely treating people when they’re sick, to preventing sickness in the first place and looking at wider social remedies to help improve people’s health and well-being. It’s about what matters to you, not what’s the matter with you. It’s about a ‘one team’ approach that puts the citizen at the centre and connects the entire health and social care spectrum to help people live better lives.

Care model evolution

Box 1. The evolution of care models in England

Wakefield ‘Enhanced Health for Care in Care Homes’ Vanguard

The Wakefield vanguard is a great example of how this approach is working in practice. Through new models of care they have experienced significant improvements (box 2).

Wakefield enhanced care in care home improvements

Box 2. Improvements for 15 care homes within the vanguard compared to non-vanguard care homes in Wakefield (April 2016 to March 2017)

Great work Wakefield! If you want to read more about what’s going on in Wakefield, check out here and here.

NHS and Social Care

Unfortunately, the good news stories don’t cover the whole country and there is still a great deal of work to be done across the board to integrate across two very different sectors. Prof. Keith Willet, the Director for Acute Care to NHS England outlined some key differences between the NHS and Social Care in England (box 3). Those stats don’t lie, social care is bigger than the NHS in terms of staff, practice and bed numbers. Fancy that.

Box 3. Social care is bigger than the NHS in staff, practice and bed numbers

Keith’s message was simple: Health care does not understand social care. 

And he’s right. I have worked across both sectors and I agree. I’m sure you’ll agree. They are two completely different industries. They are vastly different markets and the funding mechanisms between the two couldn’t be further apart, yet they are inherently linked.

Did you know that for healthy older adults, 10 days bed rest in hospital ages a persons mobility by 10 years? Hospital ‘bed blocking‘ therefore does not just affect the hospital, the more time elderly folk spend in a hospital bed the bigger their ongoing care needs become. That is why the stats being evidenced in Wakefield are so important.

With unprecedented pressures on both health and social care sectors, now more than ever is the time that we need to work together across sectors to reduce hospital admissions, A&E attendances, ambulance call outs, and the length of time spent in a hospital bed, in order to make the care pathways of citizens more pleasant.

Dr Brad Kirby is iCareHealth’s expert in health care informatics. His doctorate was in the validation and utilisation of whole population prescribing data for pharmacoepidemiology, and he has spent over 12 years in analytic roles within the NHS in Scotland.

To speak with Brad or one of our other consultants about the pathway to integration of social and health care, contact:

[email protected]

01440 766 400