New quick guides can help us through winter

NHS England has published a series of quick guides around urgent care. The Director of Policy for the Care England charity looks at how they can help health teams work more closely:

Working to ensure people get the care and support they need this winter, will require strong partnership working between the independent care sector and the NHS.

This is an area that can be difficult to embrace in practice. Numerous care services and a centralised NHS don’t always have good communication channels or a good understanding of the others needs and local working environments.

Care England wants to see real progress in partnership working between our sectors for the benefit of people needing health and care services. As such we would ask each health service commissioner or provider how do you communicate with your local care home and homecare sector and what can we do to help where problems are encountered?

It is good news, therefore, to see new practical guides being published, which we have co-badged with NHS England. These show how many local health communities have improved the working relationships between independent care services and the NHS, from both the view of admissions and discharges from hospitals and care homes, but also making local health services relevant and appropriate for people living in these care settings.

The aim is a common one across the system to make sure people get the right care in the right place at the right time.

The lesson for us all has to be communicate and keep on communicating and do so as early as possible so the underpinning principles – including clear agreed contract and funding mechanisms being in place – are understood to allow people to move between care settings for treatment and care without delay, or can stay in their homes in their local communities receiving the care they need.

Using national and local independent care associations is one way to strengthen working links between the sectors. Please contact us if we can help in any way.

Care homes, for example, provide a huge range of services across personal and nursing care for older and younger adults. There are just over 15,000 registered care homes in England and more than 50,000 nurses work in this sector. Care homes are people’s homes but at the same time will need to meet the varied needs and dependencies of the people who live there. They can provide both long term and short term or respite care and are central to local communities. Are you clear what the local services in the area can offer and what local capacity they have?

Making sure the people who live in these community settings are well supported by local health services and that staff working there are encouraged and supported to develop their training and skills will hopefully mean people will not be admitted from them to hospital unnecessarily.

It will also help ensure people are moved out of hospital more quickly, whether to return to their care home or to stay for a short period before moving back home. Something brought into sharper focus each winter.

Ann Mackay

Ann Mackay MBE is Director of Policy, for the Care England charity.

Ann has worked in the independent social care sector for over 25 years having started her career as a manager in the NHS.

Care England is a registered charity which represents charitable and commercial care providers meeting a wide range of care and support needs for adults in care home, homecare, housing and community-based settings.

Care England members also deliver specialist care home services such as rehabilitation, respite, palliative care and mental health services.

Ann’s work aims to ensure members have up to date information and that their views are represented in the development and implementation of health and social care policy.

Ann was awarded the MBE for services to social care in 2010.