Welsh service framework puts onus on joint working as key to delivery

Welsh service framework puts onus on joint working as key to
delivery The Welsh assembly has unveiled its blueprint for older
people’s health and social services that aims to promote greater
joint working, co-location and collaboration among professionals,
writes Derren Hayes.

The draft National Service Framework for Older People, published
last week, sets out a vision of social workers and health
professionals working side by side, sharing resources, with joint
processes and procedures and to the same inspection standards.

At its heart is the unified assessment process, which will be used
to determine a person’s needs and what services should be
commissioned to meet them. Despite patchy development so far by
local health boards, councils and NHS trusts, the Welsh government
said the joint assessment would be introduced throughout Wales by
April 2006.

Local health boards and councils will also create joint older
people action teams charged with developing services and
commissioning plans for integrated care.

In hospitals, multi-disciplinary old age specialist teams,
including social workers, will focus on people with complex
physical and mental conditions.

The NSF includes measures to reduce delayed discharges from
hospital. Intermediate care centres will be developed to offer an
alternative to hospital for frail older people while all areas will
have multi-disciplinary rapid response teams providing
rehabilitation services in people’s homes.

The plan also calls for each area to develop multi-agency community
mental health teams to deliver services, preferably co-located, to
help information sharing.

Clearer diagnostic and referral pathways between health and
community services for older people with depression and dementia
will also be introduced.

Penny Lloyd, professional officer at the British Association of
Social Workers Cymru, welcomed the emphasis on unified assessment.
“The marrying of the social and medical models for assessment will
deliver a service which better listens to older people and meets
their needs,” she said.

But Bill Walden-Jones, chief executive of mental health charity
Hafal, was more cautious. “Having an NSF does not automatically
mean better services. While we welcome better care standards we
reserve judgment until we see them being met.”

Consultation on the draft NSF for Older People runs to 14 October.
Go to www.wales.gov.uk

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