The coronavirus pandemic has given us a very different idea about what an important job is.

The need to raise the status of care workers – previously a “Cinderella” part of the health workforce – has become obvious during the early stages, but it is easy to miss the bigger picture.

Social care needs to be taken much more seriously, full stop.

The health and care system simply falls over when hospital beds are blocked because patients cannot be discharged through a lack of social care support. The economic argument for supporting frail and vulnerable people to remain healthy and independent is clear and straightforward – it stops wasting scarce NHS staff resources and lifts the burden on informal carers.

This requires social care plays a more significant role after the pandemic, and for “social prescribing” to become a reality. The development of Integrated Care Systems provides an opportunity for radically different approaches at local level, which make every contact count.

Services which are better joined up are at the heart of this. If staff from every agency caring for an at risk individual was connected colleagues from every other, care plans could become the dynamic documents they were envisaged to be – responsive to health and social support needs to keep people living at home. 

Alerts could be raised early if all staff were empowered to do so, and preventative care might reduce the risk of an emergency admission. 

And the crucial role of care coordinator to be better informed and better able to message front-line staff across the neighbourhood and find, make referrals and coordinate both clinical services and local voluntary and community support. 

To make this real, local digital solutions – locally owned within local partnerships – could transform things.

What are the key elements?

  • Reach to the front-line across multiple organisational and professional boundaries .
  • Support for care staff using the social media channels they use in everyday life (e.g. messaging contact details, instant reporting).
  • Local directory of clinical and non-clinical services, with the ability to book appointments, sessions etc. 
  • Linking up agencies involved in the care of an individual.

 Has anyone seen a solution like this in any local health economy? The big question is – why not? 

We provide bespoke platforms which bring people and information together across health and care, and we can offer a mix of functionality to support health and care systems at local or locality level.