SCIE opinion - 17 October 2013

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Photograph of  Patricia Kearney

Integration doesn't have to be daunting - use our new virtual planner

From Patricia Kearney, SCIE's Director of Innovation and Development

"I must integrate more! I must use joined-up working!" But what does this mean? You probably have lots of joined up practice underway but how to spread and sustain it? If you're working in social care, health or other public services, you may understand the concept, but it might be one of those things stuck in the “must do/too tricky” pile.

People who use services and their carers, want more joined-up public services. We know this from the evidence; they don't want to have to tell their story again and again to different care professionals just because they come under the council or health. They want, and increasingly demand, better care and support; joined-up; integrated; and co-ordinated.

So, we've created a new, free, online tool for organisations that provide services, as well as those that commission them, along with policy-makers. See it as your virtual partner that helps organisations like yours, or multi-agency teams, to work together. It's called Integration: step by step.

We started by identifying factors that help or hinder integration and wrote a research briefing on it. One factor we looked at was the following: Securing the understanding and commitment of staff to the aims and desired outcomes of new partnerships, is crucial to the success of joint working, particularly among health professionals. So the tool supports those professionals by throwing up a series of challenging discussion points, based on factors, identified through SCIE research, that can help or hinder integration.

Essentially, the tool supports you to establish a safe space to have difficult conversations around what's working and what isn't working. It also includes tips, useful reading, films clips and examples of practice; all to support discussion. We showed off the new resource at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Harrogate (NCAS) and it went down well.

We're happy to have the support of Association of Directors of Adult Social Services President Sandie Keene. Sandie says that health and social care are two agencies whose leaders must now start asking: What can we do, together, for all our citizens? And Claire Henry, MBE, who is Head of Programmes, Long Term Conditions and End of Life Care, NHS Improving Quality (NHS IQ), says will the tool will support the range of resources and materials being made available to help with assessment, innovation and measurement.

How the tool works

The tool gives teams and organisations a structure for their current and future practice, and it enables them to record their responses, agreements and plans. Groups can use the tool to develop processes, procedures, actions and decisions they have agreed. This can then be shared, and regularly reviewed and updated with all partners online. SCIE can arrange facilitators to help multi-agency teams to work through the tool. This is a paid for service. Submit a training and consultancy enquiry.


Integration - Step by Step

SCIE's Integration resources

Integration videos on Social Care TV