Wednesday, 15 October 2014

To integrate, or not to integrate: that is the question:

Here is a research briefing from the Social Care Institute for Excellence that examines the factors which promote and hinder joint and integrated working between health and social care services:

http://www.scie.org.uk/publications/briefings/files/briefing41.pdf

It briefly describes four different approaches to joint working between health and social care services (see page four). These are:
 
  • Discrete and targeted. (Services working jointly but maintaining their separate systems and approaches to meet the needs of a specific group of people.)  
  • Discrete and inclusive. (Services working jointly but maintaining their separate systems and approaches to meet the needs of the greater population.)
  • Integrated and targeted. (Services working closely together and merging their systems and approaches to meet the needs of a specific group of people.)
  • Integrated and inclusive. (Services working closely together and merging their systems and approaches to meet the needs of the greater population.) 

Consideration of the above approaches can help inform the decisions you make when setting up and developing a collaborative initiative, whatever its purpose. 

Which of the above approaches, or mix of the above approaches, would help your collaboration achieve its objectives most effectively? Would the time and effort required to integrate services be worth the benefits achieved? Would the more immediate advantages of connecting but not changing existing services be more valuable to your collaboration than the longer-term benefits of integration? Do the current context and challenges of your collaboration require it to change its joint working approach from discrete to integrated, or from integrated to discrete? Does your collaboration require a narrow focus on specific issues and people, or does it need to broaden its remit and seek to appeal to and engage with other related issues and new and different people? 

Many problems and difficulties associated with collaborative working are caused by incorrect assumptions about the level of joint working required and the scope of activities that need to be undertaken. Help yourself to form correct assumptions about how you need to work with others and what you need to do together; pause to reflect upon the above four approaches and how they may or may not help your collaboration achieve its purpose.

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