The integration of health and social care services has long been one of the most difficult challenges to crack for commissioners, managers and practitioners.
Shadow your health colleagues
“I was gobsmacked when a physio asked me what social workers do, but you only know what you know. I don’t think it is necessarily just social work that people don’t know about.
“When we first started as a team, we made the extra effort to go out and shadow each other and this has helped to have a better understanding of each other’s roles. It’s important to know what people can do and you will end up involving them more often because it adds value to the care.”
Mark Wildman, PRISM integrated care team, Nottinghamshire
Have the courage to have difficult conversations
“Have the courage to have conversations with colleagues from other disciplines, no matter how difficult it seems. There’s always a way forward even though it might not be obvious.”
Helen Jocelyn, single point of referral team, Southend
Share your knowledge
“One of the things I noticed early on was that the Mental Capacity Act is not as widely used in the health service as it is in social care. I sat down with the team and had very long conversations about people’s rights and capacity. I feel that my knowledge of the legislation and helping colleagues understand capacity issues is something I’ve brought to the team.” Mark Wildman
Be clear what your role is and stand up for yourself
“I’ve been in situations where a person has mental capacity, but what they want to do is sometimes different to what their family members want or other professionals think is best. It’s my job to advocate for the service user and this can make me unpopular with the team.
“It can be easy to be swayed in that situation and do what other people think is best because you’re worried it’s not going to work. But you have to be confident in yourself as a social worker and really strongly advocate for the patient and keep them at the centre of the assessment.”
Denise Cheung, integrated discharge team, Doncaster
Accept placement requests from all students
“It can be beneficial for integrated teams to accept placement requests from students from different professions. Students look at everything with fresh eyes and ask the questions we should ask each other every day, but don’t.” Helen Jocelyn
The integration hub is available to licence holders for the Inform Adults website. It hosts a number of guides and practice tools that will help social workers, their managers and other health professionals overcome some of the big integration headaches. These include case studies on integration projects operating in England and Wales, a service user video on the benefits of joined-up care, a ‘who’s who’ gallery of other professionals in integrated teams and a set of training materials from the Health Services Management Centre, which are exclusive to Community Care.
The hub will be updated as new material is published on integration and to reflect emerging practice needs. If you’re a social worker working in an integrated team and you have learning to share please contact firstname.lastname@example.org