Opinions

Why we need to talk about integration

Written by: Ronnie Hill, Associate Director, the ALLIANCE

Published: 25/07/2019

“What we are finding is a great will from the various areas to join up and work together.”

Integration is the biggest change we are likely to see in the health and social care landscape in a generation. It is a Scottish Government priority and much energy, and funding, is being put into efforts to make it happen. The ALLIANCE promoted and supported the integration agenda and champions it now as a third sector strategic intermediary. We are seeing the benefits of integrated services to individuals who access support and services across Scotland.

But integration means different things to different people. Ask people to define it and you will likely get varying responses. That is why we are applying a laser focus with our new Integration Stories project. We are exploring what integration is in action, what difference it makes to people’s lives, charting best practice and looking at innovation across sectors.

We have been working behind the scenes researching the current state of play, talking to partners from the NHS, colleagues from social work and to other statutory bodies such as the DWP and, crucially, the third sector.

We have been struck, but not surprised, by the role of the third sector in the march toward greater integration of services and are seeing sterling examples of progressive action across bodies.

The will and commitment to succeed

What we are finding is a great will from the various areas to join up and work together to benefit the people that matter the most, those in need of support. There is an encouraging level of commitment to partnership working that is coming through in our research with exciting projects evolving with the times.

Integration stories will showcase such examples, detailing the ins and outs of integrated working, charting the growth of integrated services and identifying what it takes to make it work. The stories will be informative and a worthwhile read for anyone working in health, social care, the voluntary sector and other potential partnership areas.

It is clear that many of the integrated projects we have encountered are led by committed and passionate individuals who put relationships, communication and equality at the heart of their work. A striking element of successful integration is team building, bringing people together and laying the foundations needed to reach the goals set for services. Every project we have engaged with so far displays these factors.

Evolving practice and the future

Integration in health and social care is an ongoing and evolving process. In order to forge ahead we must learn from one another, share ways of working and reflect on current practice with an eye on how we can improve. We hope that by sharing cross-sector Integration Stories we will provide food for thought, spark ideas and grow our confidence in integrated working.

We will publish regular updates on integrated services with interviews from those managing and working on the frontline, and details on what works. Our aim is to represent the rich and varied landscape of integration across the country, focusing one by one on examples that will educate and inspire.

It is important to us that we capture as many examples as possible. If you have an example of integration that you would like to see featured in Integration Stories, please contact us at integration@alliance-scotland.org.uk

You can read our first integration story about Macmillan Cancer here: https://www.alliance-scotland.org.uk/health-and-social-care-integration/integration-support/integration-stories/macmillans-integration-success-story/

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