Preparing the future workforce through education for integration

Written by: Helen Rainey, Lecturer, School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery, University of the West of Scotland
and Elaine Gifford, Lecturer, School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery, University of the West of Scotland

Published: 17/06/2018

Delivering integrated care across the globe requires the workforce to be appropriately educated.

Both the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act (2014) (this link will take you away from our website) and the World Health Organisation’s ‘Strengthening a Component Health Workforce for the Provision of Coordinated / Integrated Health Services (this link will take you away from our website) position the integration of health and social care services as the principal means of transforming the delivery of services.

In relation to staff, the Scottish Government’s 2017 National Health and Social Care workforce plan (this link will take you away from our website) acknowledges that planning for the future NHS Scotland workforce will require a broad range of professionals who recognise that inter-dependence, the importance of ‘whole of the workforce’ and a distributed model of professional leadership will support the provision of more sustainable services.

From an international perspective, the WHO, citing Frenk et al, notes the importance of:

“all health professionals in all countries to be educated to mobilize knowledge and to engage in critical reasoning and ethical conduct so they are competent to participate in patient and population-centred health systems as members of locally responsive and globally connected teams”

All this highlights that delivering integrated care across the globe requires the workforce to be appropriately educated.  At the University of West of Scotland (UWS) we have responded to this need by developing undergraduate and post graduate programmes in integrating health and social care.  These have been developed to address the educational needs of a cross-sectoral health and social care workforce in cultural transformation, focusing on educating for enablement and empowerment through co-production and an asset-based approach.

The programmes we deliver at UWS are the BA (Hons) Integrated Health and Social Care programmes – which have been successfully running since 2011 – and the more recently validated MSc in Leading People-centred Integrated Care.  These programmes are reflective of 3 stages of education as identified by Frenk et al:

  • Informative education – the acquisition of knowledge.
  • Formative education – socialisation into work/profession.
  • Transformative education – preparing to be leaders and mobilising knowledge positive values.

The UWS undergraduate programme is focused on informative education and the post graduate on transformative education.  The ethos behind both is to enable and empower the students to deliver, develop and lead integrated services in order to promote and enhance quality, effective and efficient people-centred services.

The undergraduate BA programmes develop the graduate skills required for the changing landscape of health and social care.  This includes study of the policy, practice and factors that influence integrated service provision; person-centred service delivery; professional, leadership and management skills; evidence-based solutions and research principles; and reflective practice that fosters a values base of rights and respect for all.

The postgraduate MSc is designed to provide a progressive pathway for staff working in the cross-sectoral field of health and social care.  The core modules are built around the five strategies identified within the WHO’s Framework on Integrated People-centred Health Services (this link will take you away from our website).  This includes the exploration of creating the conditions for integrated care; engaging and empowering people and communities; leading and transforming cross-sectoral services; and ensuring value for people, professionals and organisations.

A key feature of the programmes is that, through the multi-professional and multi-sectoral nature of shared co-productive learning to integrated care education, students can explore the complexities and challenges of delivering and leading system integration.  This is advocated as a way of breaking down professional boundaries and in developing a more cohesive approach to professional practice.  This allows shared and asset-based learning to take place between the diverse roles of the students and staff, in addition to the impact on the cultural appreciation and shifts that are required to ensure the delivery of integrated, person-centred services.  This is supported with the use of Appreciative Inquiry to support transformational change.

The principle of co-production is evident throughout both the ongoing developments in the undergraduate programme and in the development of the Masters programme. Both programme teams have been commended for the co-productive approach taken, which has included subject specialists in integrated care, students and programme staff.  Delivering and developing programmes relating to integration cannot be done in isolation and must uphold the very principles of integration it is aiming to achieve.

The portfolio of programmes at UWS has been built from experiences of staff delivering the undergraduate programme and provides opportunities for shared, cross sectoral and boundary spanning learning using both a bottom up and top down approach to teaching and learning in supporting the cultural shift and transformational change that is required to ensure the delivery of truly people-centred integrated care.

If you would like more information about the programmes please contact

BA (Hons) Integrated Health and Social Care: Elaine Gifford (Programme Lead)

(elaine.gifford@uws.ac.uk, 0141 849 4325)

MSc Leading People-centred Integrated Care: Helen Rainey (Programme Lead)

(helen.rainey@uws.ac.uk , 0141 849 4323) @helenr1976 (this link will take you away from our website)

The UWS School of Health, Nursing & Midwifery can be found on Twitter at @uwshealth (this link will take you away from our website).

This Opinion is part of the ALLIANCE’s ‘We Need To Talk About Integration’ anthology which is available at the link below.

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