“We are ‘done unto’ by health” – how do we help care home providers get an equal voice in integrated care?

    July 13, 2023

    Here the Health Innovation Network’s Clinical Director Carrie Chill reflects on the learnings from a recent event focusing on how to ensure social care can have a louder voice in integrated care systems, and how those in the health system can support them.

    Have we unlocked the full potential of integration?

    I joined colleagues recently at a London-wide event to explore the potential of increased involvement from care providers at a more strategic level in the health and care system.

    The Health Innovation Network supported a number of organisations at the event, which was hosted at City University London. These included My Home Life England, a charity working to improve the quality of life for those living, visiting, and working in all care settings, and Care Providers’ Voice, an organisation aiming to create strong networks of providers and maximise the benefits of collaboration across local geographies.

    Attendees included care professionals in leadership roles from London nursing homes, residential homes and domiciliary care providers. They were joined by system leaders from local authorities and at a London level to explore how care providers can contribute to strategic development of Integrated Care Systems and Integrated Care Partnerships.

    One of the early themes which emerged from the discussion was that care colleagues felt they needed a better understanding of the way health and care systems operate at a strategic level. They also felt they needed confidence, support, and resource to become more involved. There was a feeling among care providers of sometimes being required to undertake training or activity which had been done before or was of little value to the care setting. I felt many of these feelings were summed up by the comment that “we are ‘done unto’ by health”, with very little power to influence such situations.

    We heard from Mike Armstrong and Tay Nagendran from Care Providers’ Voice on what has worked well in north east London. They explained how they have supported providers with recruitment and training and how “having a seat at the table” has helped local authorities deliver services more effectively.

    I was struck by the consensus that the involvement of care providers would be both valuable and welcomed, but also by the hurdles to be jumped before it could become a reality. Care providers felt mentoring and ongoing support would be beneficial and there was much debate about exactly where and how their involvement would be most impactful.

    It is so positive that My Home Life and Care Providers’ Voice have raised the profile of this important issue in London, and continue to do so. I feel we at the HIN are well placed to support these discussions through our networks including our Care Home Leads Forum, our Pioneer Alumni, through strengthening partnerships, and by exploring the potential of a London Care Network.

    I believe we are just starting on the road to full integration. Great work has been done to configure the system, but we now need to work from the bottom up, to engage and include not just health, but also care and the voluntary sector.

    It may not be quick, it may not be easy, but it will certainly be worthwhile.

    The HIN and MHL are in the fifth year of working together to deliver the South London Care Home Pioneer programme to develop the leadership skills of senior care home staff.

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    To learn more about this programme, contact us via the email below.

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