The head of NHS England has signalled that there is no intention of ending plans to more closely link the British health and social care systems.
A report from the National Audit Office earlier this year suggested that health and social care integration was not being carried out effectively enough to deliver the desired results, although where it was done well there were undoubtedly benefits.
Addressing the NHS Confederation in Liverpool, Simon Stevens reiterated that the course had not changed, and said that his priority was to end the “fractured” health and social care system, with nine areas covering 7 million people to be targeted as priority areas for integration.
The integration at a local level will be driven by ‘accountable care systems’ (ACSs), which will bring together local NHS organisations with voluntary groups and care organisations. The intention is to build on those local areas where successes have been made, which has had a particular impact on hospital admissions.
Although many will, without debt, criticise some integration efforts, but the evidence from the NAO’s report does suggest that there are benefits when it is done well. Experimenting across different localities may not always be pretty, but we can all acknowledge that our care system needs a shake-up, and we should welcome any moves that improve welfare whilst alleviating burdens on overstretched public services.
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According to its residents and the CQC report, a “homely” feel, stimulating activities, and a passionate workforce.
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A new start-up is seeking to let more people with dementia live in their own home by using technology.
Adam and Daniel Pike started SuperCarers in response to their own family’s experience with dementia. Their grandmother suffered with the disease, but preferred to stay in her own home. Lacking the finances to pay for private carers, the family relied on local authority carers until eventually Adam and Daniel’s mother took over. As the condition worsened, however, the family had to turn to residential care. The Pikes’ grandmother, they say, resented the decision, and made their mother feel guilty about it until the day she died. The impact is still with their mother even ten years later.
Recognising that 90% of over-50s who need care would rather stay in their own home, SuperCarers is attempting to reduce the costs by linking carers and families online directly, eliminating the need for agencies and their associated costs and overheads. SuperCarers acts as an introducer, and as such is not regulated by the CQC.
The Pikes argue that this gives more families more cost effective care over which they can exercise more control. Further, since SuperCarers is an introducer and not an agency, carers are self-employed and can set their own rates, meaning they will typically earn more than if they were part of an agency.
This new model has led to calls from some, including the UK Homecare Association, for the government to introduce new regulations to take account of changes in the health and social care market. This does not seem to be on the horizon, though. Further, SuperCarers seems to be taking its role seriously, with its team of advisers including luminaries from the CQC, the National Dignity Council, and even an ex-minister. It’s next step, according to the founders, is to build relationships with the NHS to help speed-up discharges and reduce the 445,000 days a year elderly people to spend in hospital while waiting for in-home care.
A piece in The Guardian has highlighted that funding alone will not be the solution to the country’s care crisis. Instead, focusing on talent within the sector will be the key.
The article by Paul Dosset calls for a radical rethink of “our strategy towards the health and happiness of the British people”. A shift in thinking from focusing on the problems to the solutions is required. The country should not “just see health and social care as a burden on the budget”, and we must “learn how to do more with less” to ‘future-proof’ the sector.
In particular, the piece argues that talent within the sector is essential to improving its efficiency and raising standards. The Government has signalled an end to reliance on low-skilled labour from the EU and a willingness to nurture homegrown talent. There must therefore be moves within health and social care to “safeguard talent”.
These arguments echo comments made by Leon Williams, General Manager of Advantage Accreditation, earlier this week. Leon called for a new emphasis on skills development and improving training programmes in care organisations.
“Any increase in social care funding will no doubt be widely welcomed throughout the health and social care sector”, said Leon. “Ensuring that care trainers and care workers have the latest knowledge and skills, however, is the best way promote efficiency and achieve better outcomes for service users.”
Advantage Accreditation work with training companies and care organisations across the UK, providing quality assurance and verification against external standards. For more information, contact 020 7405 9999, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.