A year ago when health, social and voluntary sectors care professionals, managers and people with long-term conditions (LTCs) met with academics and other interested individuals at the Kings Fund and then at Nesta the message was overwhelming – stop talking, get on with it.
We reviewed the delivery landscape for people with LTCs and multimorbidity and decided enough was enough. We felt it was time to pull together and use our collective ideas and experience, to roll up our sleeves and start turning aspirations into reality.
A small but expanding group has been meeting and is now called the Coalition for Collaborative care with an emphasis on Action for Long Term Conditions. So why has it taken this effort to ensure the routine provision of person-centred coordinated care when people with LTCs have been demanding this for so long?
First, having a LTC is very different from an acute condition. Most of important developments in medicine and technology in the last century have been about helping care professionals to do things to people or for people.
People with LTCs need practitioners to work with them to make the best decisions in their daily lives and achieve what matters most to them. This demands new attitudes and new skills from practitioners – and habits are hard to change. But the systematic processes in care and support planning make this easier to get right every time.
Second, achieving personally-tailored solutions for each of the 15 million people with LTCs is a complex business that no one practitioner or organisation can provide alone. Participants at last year’s workshops described how the great things they were doing weren’t as effective as they hoped because there was always some other part of the overall system that was missing.
The House of Care describes a flexible but systematic and practical way in which the experience of all the coalition stakeholders can be used by local health and social care communities as they redesign their integrated services. It shows us not only which elements need to be in place, but that they need to be linked: if one is missing – the structure is not fit for purpose.
Finally our health and social teams all want to make sure they are making a difference to people’s lives. It’s why they do the job. But care and support planning and the House of Care will not happen by chance. We now have tried and tested training programmes, practical learning and resources from the Year of Care programme and People Powered Health pilots to make it easier for teams to get going. The launch of the Coalition for Collaborative Care means there are no excuses any more. It’s time we all set about building a local House of Care.
Sue Roberts, chair, Year of Care Partnerships, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust