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Are you glue or treacle on integration matters?

Clare Neill
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Derbyshire CC’s cabinet member for adult social care identified clear obstacles to joint working

I would like my residents to experience seamless care that takes account of their physical, social and mental health needs. And organisations should collaborate based on the added value that they bring to individuals.

Integration of health and social care has to happen at scale and pace – and it has to deliver savings to offset the cuts to frontline services.

At the recent Integration Summit organised by LGC and Health Service Journal, delegates experienced an inter-group event. Such events are an opportunity for participants to learn about the processes and relationships that form between different groups when they are engaged on a common task.

I found it illuminating and it reflected much of my experience in my health and social care economy. Delegates were split up into groups made up of people from the same background. Councillors were put into one group, representatives from clinical commissioning groups made up another group, etc.

So, we were all put into our silos and most of the councillors stayed in ours.

We spent almost an hour introducing ourselves, talking about what we were doing on all matters related to integration. We were not particularly task focused, despite my best efforts with flip chart and coloured pens. We were disturbed by a member of healthwatch, and chose to ignore her.

The healthwatch and voluntary sector group was very task focused, constructive and engaging. When I walked in, one member moved the chair next to him so that I could sit down. They agreed to an open door policy, despite the noise outside.

The providers were not in their room, they had left a note to say that they would be back later…

… I found them pitching to the commissioners. Their door was shut and not one of them acknowledged me as I walked in. They talked a lot about what the other groups could do to improve the effectiveness of health and wellbeing boards but I didn’t hear much reflection about their own contribution.

The frontline member of staff talked of the treacle that got in the way of her integrating pathways; the systems and processes that she had to battle against.

I urge everyone involved with health and social care to reflect on their contribution to integration. Do you provide the glue that binds health and social care or are you part of the treacle? 

Clare Neill (Lab), cabinet member for adult social care, Derbyshire CC . She has more than 11 years of experience working in the health service

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