In my previous blog I talked about my vision for integration and the importance of putting people at the heart of care. To bring this to life we published Health and Care Integration – making the case from a public health perspective, setting out why integrated public health interventions that prevent people from becoming unwell are central to improving outcomes. Publishing the document is only the beginning for us, marking our ambition to support local areas to develop and implement integrated services that:
- help prevent ill health and support people to stay well
- improve individuals’ health and wellbeing as well as their quality of life if they become ill
- focus on people’s wants and needs rather than the organisations and structures that deliver care.
Just before Christmas, NHS England and the LGA published the Better Care Fund guidance. Inevitably, there will be enormous amounts of activity taking place locally as people share, refine and agree their integration plans. Local PHE centres and Directors of Public Health in local authorities can play a strong role in helping shape and move forward the integration plans, which are due to be submitted next month .
In an attempt to bring our ambition for integration to life, Making the case brought together a number of examples of innovative work already underway from across the country. We have since been contacted by colleagues keen to share further examples of innovative work.
I was really interested to hear about the Health Begins at Home project Family Mosaic, one of the largest housing providers in London and the South East, is taking forward in partnership with the London School of Economics and their local health partners. The project in North London is to determine whether housing interventions for older residents can reduce their use of NHS services. An interim report identified that 92% of the participants had one or more long-term health condition, 49% felt lonely at least some of the time and 25% had suffered a fall in the last six months. Since the project began a high proportion of the participants have attended weight management classes or sought advice on how to stop falls at home. Although it’s too early to measure outcomes, the health needs of residents are evident and the potential role the housing association can play in supporting residents to live hebalthier lives is clear.
I was also interested to hear about LifeLines. This older volunteer-led project, run by Community Service Volunteers (CSV) in partnership with the Brighton & Hove City Council Adult Social Care and Public Health teams and with Hanover Housing Association, aims to establish an integrated approach to maximising the health and wellbeing of older people. LifeLines volunteers run free health and wellbeing activities for residents in the extra care housing scheme, offering support to those who would like more social interaction or help to attend medical appointments. Older volunteers run activities for their peers, ranging from art to reading, yoga and dancing. Independent evaluation showed that 78% of beneficiaries and 71% of volunteers feel less isolated, while 93% of volunteers and 82% of beneficiaries made new friends. 86% of beneficiaries and 83% of volunteers agree that they receive health benefits.
I have no doubt that there are many more innovative projects taking place across the country. If you have any information you would like to share, please do tell us about them in the comments.
I’ll judge that Health and Care Integration – making the case from a public health perspective was successful if it helps local services make a real difference in their communities: if it has supported real change in thinking and in services. PHE is committed to supporting local areas to develop and implement their integrated approaches. Over the coming weeks, through our centres, we will support local areas by sharing information and learning about integrated public health interventions, and we will continue to work closely with our national partners, to support the integration pioneers as the implement their innovative approaches and share lessons learnt.