Integrated workforce

What is an integrated workforce?

An integrated workforce can be defined as health and social care professionals collaborating, or working in a coordinated way, to provide care and support to individuals.

There is no single definition of what good workforce integration looks like, but its features often include:

  • a strong culture of inter-professional collaboration and multidisciplinary team working
  • an appropriate skill mix to ensure people with complex needs are appropriately supported
  • the ability to adapt existing roles to support integrated ways of working, and to develop new roles that span organisational boundaries, such as community navigators and link workers.
  • Video transcript Open

    An integrated workforce can be defined as health and social care professionals collaborating, or working in a coordinated way, to provide care and support to individuals.

    Its features often include:

    • A strong culture of inter-professional collaboration and multidisciplinary team working
    • An appropriate skill mix to ensure people with complex needs are appropriately supported
    • The ability to adapt existing roles to support integrated ways of working
    • And the development of new roles that span organisational boundaries, such as community navigators and link workers.

    An integrated workforce delivers the fundamental value of integrated care: better care outcomes and care experiences for individuals and their carers.

    Joint working ensures all professionals are working towards the same care goals.

    It also breaks down the professional and organisational barriers that create fragmented experiences of care, whilst multidisciplinary teams represent a specific mechanism for coordinating and delivering integrated services.

    Emerging best practice and guidance highlight a number of enabling factors that are associated with effective workforce integration.

    • Developing system-wide strategic workforce plans, to ensure there is appropriate capacity and capability across all local settings
    • Ensuring local providers and organisations work in partnership to address shortages in the health and care workforce
    • Facilitating opportunities for staff from different disciplines to understand each other’s roles and professional identities,  to learn from each other and plan solutions and interventions together
    • And developing integrated training opportunities
    • … And, facilitating information sharing, including access to care records.

    A place-based, integrated approach to workforce development and planning can be expected to produce a range of positive outcomes, including better care coordination, leading to a more seamless experience of care.

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Why does the workforce matter for integrated care?

An integrated workforce delivers the fundamental value of integrated care: better care outcomes and care experiences for individuals and their carers.

Joint working ensures all professionals are working towards the same care goals. It also breaks down the professional and organisational barriers that create fragmented experiences of care.

Multidisciplinary teams represent a specific mechanism for coordinating and delivering integrated services, but it is also the whole local workforce, from leaders to frontline workers, within and across all disciplines, specialisms and settings, that need to work in an integrated way.

What does an integrated workforce need to succeed?

Emerging best practice and guidance highlight a number of enabling factors that are associated with effective workforce integration:

  • Developing system-wide strategic workforce plans, to ensure there is appropriate capacity and capability across all local settings to deliver comprehensive care to the local population
  • Ensuring local providers and organisations work in partnership to address shortages in the health and care workforce, developing innovative and shared opportunities for recruitment and retention – and avoiding competing for a small pool of staff
  • Facilitating opportunities for staff from different disciplines to understand each other’s roles and professional identities, building trust, relationships and joint ways of working – including through co-location where appropriate
  • Creating opportunities for professionals from multiple settings and agencies to learn from each other and plan solutions and interventions together
  • Developing integrated training opportunities, including offering rotational placements in different sectors
  • Facilitating information sharing, including access to care records

What is the evidence for outcomes and impact?

A place-based, integrated approach to workforce development and planning can be expected to produce a range of positive outcomes for both people and places, including:

  • better care coordination and improved care experiences, especially a more seamless experience of care
  • greater rationalisation of professional roles and better resource allocation
  • a better distribution of skills and competencies across services with professional profiles complementing, rather than duplicating, each other  
  • a confident, engaged and knowledgeable workforce, with a greater understanding of each other’s professional identities and how to build collaborations
  • greater opportunities for professional development and growth.