Joint plan and funding key for meeting health and social-care needs

Northumberland County Council
Northumberland County Council

Strengthening the integration of health and social care for older people in Northumberland is the aim of a new piece of work by council and health bosses.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator for the sector, carried out an initial series of targeted reviews of local health and social-care systems, to consider how services meet people’s needs, focusing on those over 65.

The overall findings from the initial 20 reviews were published in July last year in a report – Beyond Barriers: how older people move between health and social care in England.

An update to Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing board last Thursday (January 17) explained that the CQC report concluded that organisations intended to work together, but mostly focused on their own goals.

It added that although there was good planning between services, the way services were funded did not support them to work together.

Plus, organisations did not always share information with each other, which meant they were not able to make informed decisions about people’s care.

Helen Mason, a manager for the county council and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The key issue is maintaining the health and wellbeing of a person in their own home.”

The CQC report also made a number of recommendations, which included reforming the planning and commissioning of services; having an agreed joint plan, funded in the right way, to support older people in their own homes; joint workforce planning; and a new approach to system performance management, measuring how organisations collectively deliver improved outcomes for older people.

While it is not known whether or not Northumberland will be the focus of one of the CQC’s next round of local service reviews, it was decided to prepare for one given that it has the additional benefits of helping to improve current practice and services.

The health and wellbeing board is set to receive an update in April once an initial assessment has taken place, due to be completed by the end of March.

The county’s director of public health, Liz Morgan, said: “It’s nice to see that prevention and aligning and pooling of budgets are in there, because that’s in our joint health and wellbeing strategy. Even if we are not inspected, this is the right thing to do as an improvement tool.”

Coun Scott Dickinson added: “Looking at the recommendations from across the 20, Northumberland actually has an advantage on many of these because of how we already work in partnership.”

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service