As the New Care Models Programme marks its first anniversary, National Care Model Lead, Louise Watson, reflects on how their work is already paying dividends.
The 14 vanguards creating multispecialty community providers (MCP) are developing new ways to deliver a sustainable and improved quality of personalised care, which includes moving specialist care out of hospitals closer to where people live.
The new care models programme was in its infancy when the MCP vanguards were created and the teams faced a real challenge to move from the initial feelings of success at becoming a vanguard, through uncertainty about what that meant to what we see now – extensive engagement with the programme and very strong partnerships supporting care focused on their local community.
We know that working with individuals and garnering the enthusiasm of local clinical leaders is the way to deliver lasting change. Part of the process so far has been to create a shared understanding of the necessity for partnership working and collaboration, and of the importance of community engagement and community leaders.
The resulting convergence of ideas about what the new model looks like is very pleasing to see. The definition of an MCP is remarkably consistent across all the vanguards and this will help us greatly as we share successes with others.
Building on this, something that’s emerging now is the ability to articulate the changes through the patients’ voice rather than the clinicians’ voice, which is really encouraging. I have personally had some lovely experiences in vanguard meetings when patients have talked on behalf of the team about their experiences, and how their friends, family, and relatives have benefited from the changes.
The changes on the ground
The vanguards are fundamentally changing the way they work with patients and local people. Patients and local people are not something we do to, but people we do with and for. This includes making sure the care and support we offer is truly patient centred and they are already seeing a much more coherent and streamlined approach to their care.
For example, they’re not telling their story three or four times; they tell it once to a group of professionals who co-ordinate their care for them.
When they approach their GP, they should get a broader conversation about how they as an individual feel about their health. A lot of people come to GPs when they’re lonely or feeling vulnerable and all the MCP vanguards are developing a more holistic approach to care as part of their model. Some GP receptionists are being trained to offer more social support or to signpost people to a dedicated ‘wellbeing co-ordinator’.
Vanguards are actively engaging with local communities around how they manage themselves and their care and work is also ongoing to support patients’ health through proactively managing their medications. Some people may now come out of hospital sooner than they would have done before thanks to investment in community teams who can support vulnerable people more fully than in the past.
The MCP vanguards are demonstrating some excellent, locally driven work, and the importance of our clinical and community leaders shouldn’t be underestimated as the programme moves forward and we share our learning with others.