Priorities for integrating health and social care in Scotland

by Richard Meade
Head of Policy & Public Affairs, Scotland

Richard Meade. Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Scotland

In February, my colleague Susan blogged about the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014, which requires all 32 local authorities and NHS boards to jointly plan integrated health and social care services, and the opportunities that integration offers for people living with a terminal illness.

The new integration boards that she talked about are now live and, with most of the boards currently finishing off their organisational plan, attention is turning to the development of their strategic plans and how they will take integration forward.

Yesterday I attended a conference, organised by Scotland Policy Conferences, where over 100 health and social care professionals, third sector representatives, academics and others gathered to hear the priorities for integrating health and social care in Scotland.

There was a broad range of issues covered during the day and I have summarised a few below.

  • Anne Hendry, National Clinical Lead for Integrated Care at the Joint Improvement Team
    In the opening contribution Anne, highlighted that progress has been made with fewer older people presenting to A&E than predicted, due in part to the success of Reshaping Care for Older People programme. She went on to talk about the need for strong leadership to ensure that integration works.

  • Dr Miles Mack, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland
    GPs are playing an important and enthusiastic role in the integration process.  However, it was highlighted that in some areas GPs are still not being involved. Considering the important role that GPs play in care for people with a terminal illness this is something that Marie Curie would urge the integration boards and GPs to address.

  • Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport
    Important progress has been made so far, but Ms Robison talked about the need to address the issue that 3 per cent of people take up to 50 per cent of unscheduled bed days in hospital. Setting out the importance of the co-production in the design of services with people at the centre is key to keeping people at home for as much of the care as possible.

  • Ranald Mair, Chief Executive at Scottish Care
    There is a changing demographic of care home residents, and residents moving into care homes tend to be there for only 12-18 months, compared to a few years ago. This reflected the fact that people are able to stay at home for longer and, when they do move into a care home, often need palliative and end of life care. This has serious implications for the workforce of care homes and the training and skills they have.

  • Amy Dalrymple, Head of Policy at Alzheimer Scotland
    A human rights based approach to health and social care is crucial in achieving the whole-system change that is needed.

  • Bettina Sizeland Head of eHealth Policy and Strategy at the Scottish Government
    Scotland has an opportunity to be a global leader in e-health and, in order to make integrated care work, we need to develop an efficient system to capture information. That information then needs to be easily shared across organisations delivering care.

There is rightly a lot of ambition and hope in the integration agenda, but we need to make sure that progress is made with the strategic planning that is now taking place, so that its implementation from next year will lead to real person-centred care.

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