Now that days are noticeably longer, crocuses and snowdrops are in flower and the daffodils are growing too, there is a recognition that Spring is on the way; and so far we have not seen our local health and social care services under extreme pressure as has happened in the winter period in the past. We have of course been fortunate with the weather and it might be tempting fate to take the team winter logo off the website until the end of March.
I would like to think that some of the changes we have helped put in place have been effective in helping people get the care they need in the right place at the right time. We need to try and get some evidence of cause and effect so that we can continue with those initiatives that have proven to make a difference and discontinue or modify those that did not have the desired impact.
Better Care Fund
I have been spending quite a bit of time talking about the Better Care Fund. You can find more information about this here. When I talked to members of the Older People’s Forum at their meeting in Darwen there was a discussion about whether initiatives such as this actually made a difference to the lives of people who use services and I was given examples of how difficult it can be to get the care at the time it is needed. Certainly there is scepticism about the outcome for individuals of this attempt to integrate care.
When I went to meet people from the Healthwatch task group I was pleased to hear that there are volunteers who spend their valuable time visiting services and reporting on what they find. I am sure that Healthwatch will play an important part in checking that the changes made as we implement our better care plans do indeed improve the support people get when they use health and social care support.
Listening to carers
It is important that we do not forget those who provide care for a family member friend or neighbour. I talked to some of these people at a meeting organised by the Carers Support Service from their base in Kingsway. Most present were caring for a child with a disability. Nevertheless they welcomed the plans for more integrated services but made a strong argument for the single care plan to contain information about the role of the family or friend who provide most of the care most of the time.
If people are to be cared for in their own home then the accommodation must be fit for purpose and when I met with representatives from the Together Housing Group, which includes the Twin Valleys organisation which is responsible for many properties in Blackburn with Darwen, I was encouraged by how imaginative staff from the housing sector can be and how much they already do not provide not just bricks and mortar but a wide range of assistance. For instance they :
- Keep homes up to a decent standard;
- Run several ‘health and well-being services’ – Branch Out, GROW, safeguarding, worried well clinic in extra care;
- Deliver support services by contract – such as telecare ; and
- Help tenants to live productive lives – Financial inclusion, aids and adaptations training and apprenticeships.
So when we talk about the integration of services we need to look wider that the traditional health and social care offer and see what contribution can be made by other agencies, voluntary organisations and community groups.
I think that the scale of operation we propose in Blackburn with Darwen by having four localities is useful as it allows for the smaller-scale groups to have a meaningful voice in discussions about priorities for the area. I think our plans are taking us in the right direction and am hopeful that as they are implemented we will see people being able both to help themselves and to be better served by health and social care staff and having better lives as a result.
Chair, NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group
Tel: 01254 282120/282118
Fax: 01254 282188