Northern Ireland is unique among the UK countries as it has had an integrated health and social care service since 1974.
In Scotland, health and social care integration became a reality in 2016, with all adult social care, community health and some hospital services now integrated by law. In some parts of Scotland, new integration authorities are integrating children’s services too.
In England, NHS providers, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Local Authorities, and other health and care service providers have come together in geographic areas called Sustainability and Transformation Plan footprints, to work together to transform the way that health and care is planned and delivered for their populations.
And in Wales, the Welsh Government is committed to integrating health and social care. Current proposals for local government reform, which encourage regional level commissioning, will facilitate this.
Amongst all this, nursing staff are working hard to continue to deliver quality, seamless care for people.
As the way health and care services are delivered evolves, it is vital that nursing staff are involved in discussions around integration of health and social care.
We can advise how service redesign will impact on the nursing workforce and we can showcase the nursing impact on people’s health and wellbeing outcomes.
We can continue to forge new relationships with organisations and influencers who work in different structures and help them to understand the nursing role and contribution to integrated health and social care.
As a member of Council and co-Chair of the RCN’s Nursing Policy and Practice Committee, I want all our members to be empowered to get involved and influence discussions in your service or area around integration of health and care. We have the experience, knowledge and skills to support any changes to the way care is delivered for the people we work with. Without nursing, integration simply cannot work successfully for our communities.
Download a copy of the new Integrating health and social care toolkit.