Breaking Barriers: building a sustainable future for health and social care

Collaboration, Integration and Innovation are the key themes of ‘Breaking Barriers – Building a Sustainable Future for Health and Social Care’, a report written by Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE, The Rt. Hon. Hazel Blears and Dr John Bashford.

At the ‘Breaking Barriers’ summit in central London this week, Lord Patel of Bradford launched the report by saying that:

To have hope of surmounting the challenge being brought to bear on health and social care funding for the NHS and local government we need new ways of delivering public services that are collaborative, integrated and innovative and which offer realistic, practical and replicable solutions.

Breaking Barriers offers a vision ‘for an integrated health and care system that uses it’s estates and infrastructure wisely and collectively within a single, unified financial and budgetary framework at local and national level’.  As the business transformation partner supporting the report, Sopra Steria has provided insight into how technology can best support the Breaking Barriers vision. This insight has been summarised in our thought leadership paper, published to coincide with the release of the Breaking Barriers report.

So what does this new model mean in practice?

Breaking Barriers proposes bringing together what is often a dispersed physical health and care estate into a local, shared physical hub that will help to generate collaboration, integration and innovation between agencies.

 To demonstrate how this may work we have developed a model, shown in this diagram that considers how innovative and collaborative methods can help to reduce, divert and manage demand.

At the top of the funnel we seek to develop long term solutions that prevent demand entering the Health and Care system in the first place. If we can influence good health practices at an early stage we can reduce the incidence of ill health and therefore reduce the need for care interventions.

An example of this approach is a project that Sopra Steria is supporting in Halton, in the North West, where over 30% of primary school children are overweight or obese.  The ‘Gamechanger’ project encourages children to take an extra 15 minutes of activity each day with the objective of making Halton school children the most active and healthy in England. By laying strong healthy foundations at an early age we aim to support and encourage a healthy long term lifestyle. It’s being initiated by Halton CCG, and the local Rugby League Club Widnes Vikings, collaborating with a number of stakeholders including Sopra Steria, Cheshire and Merseyside Women and Childrens’ Services Vanguard, Halton Borough Council and Liverpool John Moores University. We’ll be supporting this initiative developing a website that will have content to encourage healthy behaviours, and by using technology to incentivise children to eat well, and participate in exercise and to monitor their individual health goals.

The second layer of the funnel diverts demand by moving appropriate care from the physical environment into the virtual environment. For example, introducing patient self-service where appropriate and using invisible technologies, such as sensors, to support greater independent living within the home – these ambient technologies are particularly useful as they can monitor the home environment and the health of individuals remotely and without any direct patient input, so there is no need for them to learn or understand the technologies involved.

The final element of our approach is to use IT to help manage the remaining demand more cost effectively and giving patients an improved experience – for example automating processes, introducing electronic care records and simplifying administration.

Making change happen

It was clear that a desire for change exists amongst the health and care community represented at the summit. One of the speakers talked of the chemistry between people that is so often the catalyst for change and many of the people that I spoke to agreed that the way forward would be to build that collaboration across agencies by making a commitment to working much closer with colleagues to build stronger links across related services.

There seems to be a head of steam building that small steps of collaboration will lead to much greater integration and innovation to steadily improve the way that care is provided.

But this approach also recognises that achieving sustainable change requires a long term commitment that will only succeed if sufficient capacity is created to ensure that health and care service delivery remains unaffected.

‘Breaking Barriers’ addresses the issue of releasing additional capacity through the proposals for property and asset rationalisation to make more efficient use of buildings and assets. But also through the development of community partnerships to provide assets, services, skills and funding in similar ways that we have seen in Halton with Widnes Vikings offering their stadium facilities to support community health projects. The use of sports facilities in this way created a real buzz and fizz at the Summit as everyone shared similar ideas and contacts within their own areas.

I was greatly encouraged by the passion and commitment to achieve integrated health and social care by the speakers and delegates at the Breaking Barriers summit; there was a clear desire to achieve positive change in the health and care systems to deliver improved outcomes for patients and citizens.

Breaking Barriers challenges us all to return to our individual organisations and deliver collaboration, integration and innovation for real change for the better.

Read more in our thought leadership paper

What are your thoughts on the Breaking Barriers Report? Leave a comment below or contact me by email.

Published by

Steve Knights

Local Government: Service delivery, Consultancy, Efficiency and Improvement, New initiatives, Innovation projects.

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