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24th August 2015

Integration of Health and Social Care in Scotland

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Scottish care services, independent and council-run, together with the local area health services across the country, are currently working through an exciting but challenging time of change.

By 2016, these services will be expected to be run by an integrated management system in each council area. The Scottish government’s aim in this is to have services which are person- and community-centred, which are preventive rather than reactive in their approach, and which are accountable to specific national outcomes for the quality of care.

Origin and aims

The integration of health and social care has been a policy goal for many years, being seen as providing more effective and person-centred care in the community. These plans received more impetus through the Christie Commission on Public Service Reform (June 2011) with subsequent legislation, and eventually the Public Bodies (Joint Working) Scotland Act 2014 laid the ground for mandatory change.

The changes pose many challenges, not least to cultural work practices and management and knowledge bases, with some differences in each sector. However, there is an encouraging dialogue between local authorities, non-statutory bodies such as the Joint Improvement team, and organisations and representatives of the independent sector.

Current planning

Work is ongoing at present in setting-up and initialising shadow Integrated Management Boards. Strategic commissioning standards, and involving current services in how new funding is to be allocated are also being discussed with relevant agencies.

The Joint Improvement team, working with partners, has set out a program of draft national outcomes to be achieved in the new integrated services. These briefly cover: people to have better health, with less health inequalities; greater potential for independent living; improved choices and quality of life; informal unpaid carers are supported; safeguarding and respect for dignity are ensured; better consistency of quality and value of resources in health and social care.

The Future

It is exciting that we are working together to provide improved, personalised care across the country. The Government's commitment to funding free personal care, and supporting the new preventive approach, all bode well. In services which are already personalised, service users have experienced some remarkable freedoms in achieving their life goals: let us hope that experiences like this can become easily available to all in the near future.

Tony Clarke – QCS Expert Scottish Care Contributor

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