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Integration of services – but what about people?

Note: The following blogpost is from Lynn Williams, Policy officer in Scotland at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

Lynn Williams

Lynn Williams at work

As policy officer for The Princess Royal Trust for Carers in Scotland and an unpaid carer, I have a dual interest in policies which affect unpaid carers and their families.  Having gone through social care services recently with my husband I find myself very interested in the Scottish Government’s recent announcement of plans to integrate health and social care for adults in Scotland. The initial focus will be on older people.

At the heart of this announcement is the recognition that the current set up through Community Health/Care Partnerships has not worked as well as it could have. There is also a recognition that for many families, it is easy to get lost between services e.g. during discharge from hospital – and that sometimes it’s easier for families to give up when they cannot make sense of what is out there. 

As the Scottish population gets older, social care and health services must work together more effectively. Is this announcement about saving money?  Partly, but the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has made it clear that she wants integration of health and social care to be about better services for older people and those who care for them.  See here for the official record of a recent debate on these issues

Planned legislation will create new health and social care partnerships under one accountable officer. Legislation will also create mechanisms for health and social care to integrate their budgets.  There will be a strong focus on clinicians and professionals as experts in the new set up – very important but what about unpaid carers and the expertise they have?  Already, the focus seems to be on structures, on finance, on staff roles and  it will take a lot to make integration happen.

I represented The Trust and gave evidence to the Health and Sport Committee at the Scottish Parliament this week. The Committee is undertaking a brief enquiry into integration prior to the Government publishing its plan.  

In amongst the nerves I felt in giving evidence, I hoped to make clear that whatever the plans look like, we cannot lose sight of what matters the most – the families and unpaid carers who rely on services provided by health and social care. I also emphasised the fact that integrated services will not work without taking account of the needs of Scotland’s 650,000 unpaid carers and the £10.3 billion contribution they make each year.  Unpaid carers and supporting them in their role must underpin the Government’s plans.

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March 15, 2012 - Posted by | Health, Social Care | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I like that distinction / moniker – from now on I shall refer to myself as an unpaid carer. Giving evidence must be nerve racking. Glad to hear you stayed the course and came out unscathed.

    Apropo of nothing in particular, I heard on Woman’s Hour today about malnutrition in elders – feel less guilty spending the morning baking.

    Comment by Maddy | March 21, 2012 | Reply


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