Integration in action showcased at care summit

Striking examples of collaboration & innovation achieved as part of the integration agenda take centre stage at launch of Scottish Care’s latest report

Thursday 5th September 2019

Public sector social care services are being urged to work closely with their colleagues in the independent sector to improve the care and support vulnerable people receive.

A report published today by Scottish Care, a coalition of independent care home and homecare providers, says involving the independent sector – which is responsible for more than eight in ten care home places – is essential if the integration of health and social care services is to succeed.

Showcasing teamwork between carers, people being cared for, policy makers and clinicians, the report contains numerous examples, gathered from across Scotland, that show successes in integration.

Speaking at a conference held at the Hanover Centre in Edinburgh where the report was launched, Judith Proctor, head of Edinburgh Health & Social Care Partnership, acknowledged many of the challenges facing services at present.

But seeing light through dark shadows cast by budgetary pressures and staffing concerns is much easier, Ms Proctor believes, when service providers take time to remember their shared purpose.

“When we get laden down with the sheer complexity of integration,” she says, “we need to return to and think about our shared purpose. What it comes down to is that we are all trying to ensure the best outcomes for our fellow citizens, often when they are in crisis, difficulty or distress.”

While health and social care staff work towards shifting the balance of care from hospitals to communities, Ms Proctor has urged a shift in the balance of power and decision making around care, moving it away from professionals and policy and into the hands of people.

A radical and ambitious plan for health and social care services in Scotland’s capital was launched last month – a vision the partnership’s lead is confident of achieving so long as innovations like the recently introduced single care worker vacancy database and training passport continue to be developed and embraced.

A pressure ulcer prevention programme, rolled out across Perth and Kinross, stands as an example of rewards that can be reaped when integration is done right, and a typical example of the numerous innovations showcased at the Scottish Care conference held today.

Meanwhile, NHS Lanarkshire’s continence improvement programme has seen substantial reductions in incontinence episodes and falls, as well as improved residents’ mental health, incurred savings on incontinence products and improved staff morale.

The same can be said for Care Cooks – a programme addressing the skills gap in services for dysphagia sufferers – a condition that can occur for a number of reasons and leads to difficulty swallowing.

Helping to improve individual’s nutritional intake, reduce episodes of choking and stop weight loss, the Care Cooks programme developed in the Highlands and brought service providers together to improve standards in catering. So successful has the programme been that a rapid evaluation is due in the coming months that will inform how the programme can be rolled out across the rest of Scotland.

Scottish Care’s report, Partners for Integration – the story so far 2012-19, can be read in full here.