Reflecting on our recent experience of virtual working with councils, health services, social workers and schools
With the many nights away from home and the hours spent travelling up and down the country, sometimes you find yourself wondering why you do what you do. I could have chosen to have a cosy office job where I would finish promptly at 5pm every day, be at home and be able to attend numerous weekly social events, yet we consultants choose this often rather hectic lifestyle. Why?….Because we care.
This year I witnessed the real impact we can have as a business in positively influencing people’s lives. A hot topic this year has been health and social care integration. Many see the benefits from bringing the two services together, such as in delivering a better standard of care, reducing demand on services and improving the experience for the patient. Yet, few areas across the country have been able to integrate their services successfully. Earlier this year IMPOWER worked with the encompass vanguard team to develop a new pathway for high risk patients. IMPOWER ran weekly multi-disciplinary team meetings across three trial areas, with representatives from health, social care and the third sector to co-design the new pathway, identify high risk patients across health and social care, share knowledge across professions and agree care plans. The initiative was such a success, that following the trial, the model was scaled up across all of the GP practices in Canterbury, Faversham and Whitstable, with 762 patients having been referred onto the pathway with integrated care plans now in place.
Although it is still early days, since the wider roll out of the trial across all GP services in the area, the team have already been able to see a reduction in the use of services by those patients on the pathway, with many of those patients requiring and benefitting from the support of social isolation and befriending services. The pathway is a real example of how integration of health and social care is both possible and hugely beneficial to all services and people involved. All it needs is passion, dedication, energy and time.
I was present at each of those weekly multi-disciplinary meetings and witnessed how powerful it can be to get representatives from health, social care and the third sector in the same room for an hour each week, to form those relationships, share knowledge and insight; and actually decide as a group how they can provide this patient and in some cases family, with the best possible form of care and support in the community. It was in those meetings, when I saw the impact the group were having on people’s lives, that I was reminded why I work for IMPOWER. We, as a business, were essential to the group initially forming those relationships, appreciating each others roles and responsibilities, agreeing how the pathway would work and changing how knowledge and insight was shared across the services. It was a powerful thing to be a part of.