A scheme to join up health and social care services across Warwickshire has started.
Better Together is the local name for the national Better Care Fund which outlines how the county will share health and county council budgets to transform services for older people to offer the right care, in the right place at the right time.
Nationally the pooled fund is worth £3.8bn. In Warwickshire, this equates to £36m which will be used to roll out a number of projects to improve access to services and people’s experiences of using them. Better Together is a five year programme but a lot of work has already been done to identify new ways to help people grouped under five main themes or priorities.
The first theme is community resilience which helps people to stay independent for longer by providing services close to home and enabling communities to support themselves. Warwickshire is currently piloting approaches that link local and voluntary activities directly into GP practices through social prescribing where doctors advise wellbeing activities as part of treatment packages.
Integrated care is the second theme which is all about providing joint health and social care services. This includes social care and other professionals working from GP practices, moving towards joint assessments across health, social care, public health and housing recognising wider needs.
The theme care at home sees a shift of resources from hospital care to care at home. Projects focus on reducing non-essential hospital admissions and supporting people and carers to receive and give care in home environments. The county is looking at redesigning home care services, assessments for home adaptations and equipment and enhanced support for carers.
Accommodation with care, the fourth theme, focuses on services and support available at residential and care homes. Better Together will look to introduce new quality standards, develop ways to help people rehabilitate more quickly and create services to meet the needs of older and frailer populations.
The last theme concerns improvements to long term care. Projects will consider how to provide early support to people with long term conditions so they can be as healthy as possible and manage their own care for longer. Health and social care also intend to develop more services for people with dementia and are working on a joint approach giving people more choice and control over the last stages of life.
Warwickshire County Council and the county’s three NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups are responsible for the delivery of Better Together but involvement from a wide range of other organisations and services is necessary for success. The five district and borough councils, Warwickshire hospitals, primary care, community services and Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust will all also play significant roles. The programme will also rely on providers of care homes and domiciliary care, the voluntary and community sector and the people of Warwickshire.
Chris Lewington, Head of Strategic Commissioning at Warwickshire County Council said: “It is an ambitious programme but with commitment and enthusiasm from all parties I am confident we will succeed. We want people to believe that Warwickshire cares, not only for the most vulnerable in our communities but also about what people want and need and the best ways to support each other.
“All the work taking place to reshape services under the banner of Better Together will be produced hand in hand with customers and patients. People are at the heart of our plans and services will be work together around those in need of our support.
“This is not a new concept but it is the first time that budgets, resources and decision making will be truly formalised around a shared agenda to improve services to meet needs now and in the future. We hope that people will agree that we are better together and that they will feel more in control over what happens to them, where and when.”
Dr Adrian Canale-Parola, a Rugby GP and Chair of the NHS Coventry and Rugby CCG, believes the Better Together programme presents a wonderful opportunity. He said: “It is important to be clear that the £36 million for Warwickshire is not new funding, but existing money that the local authority and CCGs are pooling together to deliver services jointly and sometimes differently across many areas.
“I know all three CCGs in Warwickshire are committed to this approach as there are real opportunities to improve services and care but importantly improve the patient experience.
“We hope that by joining forces and helping individuals and communities to make informed choices, we can make the best possible use of our collective limited resources.”
You can find out more about social care and health in Warwickshire at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/adultservices.