Empowering patients and staff: how the vanguards will improve care

The New Care Model Vanguards are about empowering both the people they serve and the people who serve.

That was the message from a panel discussion on the second day of the Health and Care Innovation Expo 2015 in Manchester.

37 New Care Model Vanguards have been named so far, with a further tranche focussing on hospitals collaborating with each other to follow shortly.

Asked by session host Bill Turnbull to describe what vanguards were about, Samantha Jones, Director for the New Care Models Programme at NHS England, told the story of her father in law, and of the failure of NHS services to integrate to better meet his needs, leading to his deterioration; it is exactly this lack of integration and of person-centred care which all the vanguards are striving to tackle.

Sir Sam Everington, Clinical Advisor – New Care Models Programme and the leader of a vanguard in East London, relayed how one of his fellow vanguard leaders had summed up what the programme meant for them by saying: “Being a vanguard has changed my life; it’s allowed me to get back to being a GP again.”

He expanded on how he was changing how organisations in his vanguard work, such as setting up Skype consulting to nursing homes, ensuring staff can get the specialist advice they need to arrange care quickly, and empowering more staff to lead change and make decisions. In short, Sir Sam said, “this is getting back to the core of what it means to be a health professional.”

Another Vanguard leader and Chief Officer of Dudley CCG, Paul Maubach, said: “This about empowering staff and empowering patients. There are three principles: maximising potential for patients to maintain their health and wellbeing, empowering staff to make decisions, and getting staff to work together.” Where that happens, he said “patients are getting a service that responds to their whole needs, are being seen as a whole person.”

A third vanguard lead, Karen Baker, CEO of My Life a Full Life (Isle of Wight), expanded on what new care models would mean for patients by telling the story of Bob, a 90 year old man with dementia. Bob’s wife is his main carer, so when she became ill, although her care was sorted quickly, Bob ended up in a home. With the vanguard, they’re going to put in place local area coordinators who would know about Bob in advance, and if the same happens again support will be put in place quickly meaning that he’ll be able to stay in his own home.

Responding to questions from three members of the Expo People’s Panel – Hameed Khan, Fiona Loud and Keymn Whervin – as well as from the floor, Samantha Jones went on to stress how vanguards must view patients as equal partners in the changes they want to make.

She said: “All the vanguards have to demonstrate how they have involved patients and the public in designing their model – it’s about doing it with them, not to them….This is about understanding the communities you serve and going out and working with them.”

Expanding on that point, Sir Sam Everington described how expert patients were now contributing to commissioning their own services within his vanguard, and equally how they were building the capacity of staff to co-ordinate holistic care: “We have to develop every member of staff to their full potential, and be diverse about what they do.”