King’s Fund: New job titles ‘distract’ from health and care integration

30 Jun 16

Projects to integrate health and social care provision should not get “distracted” by creating new jobs to oversee joint working, a review has found.

The analysis by The King’s Fund think-tank says the aim should instead be to make the existing workforce more flexible.

Published today, the review concluded there was limited evidence to support the creation of new jobs such as care navigators for health and social integration projects.

Commissioned by the Local Government Association and NHS Employers, the report stated there has been limited assessment of the effectiveness of individual roles since most evaluations have focused on the wider process of integration.

However, it concluded initiatives such as the government’s flagship Better Care Fund, should not be distracted by new job titles.

Lead author and King’s Fund fellow Helen Gilburt said, too often, there was an assumption that a new role was needed to deliver integrated care.

“Our analysis found new roles are not always the most effective way of delivering integrated care – and can in fact lead to solutions which are unsustainable,” she stated.

She added: “While the aim of creating a more flexible and multi-skilled workforce to provide more holistic care is paramount, rather than create a new role, it is much more compelling to utilise the existing skills of the workforce more effectively and engage staff in identifying and implementing workforce solutions themselves.”

The Supporting integration through new roles and working across boundaries review also found many of the skills required to deliver integrated care exist within the workforce. There should be engagement with the workforce from the outset on the aims for integration, as well as wider organisational support.

Buy-in from appropriate management and accountability for staff was also needed, in addition to the acknowledgment of professional boundaries, which can build trust.

LGA community wellbeing portfolio holder Izzi Seccombe said that as health and care integration gathered pace, it was vital to focus on the most effective ways of working.

“The LGA has joined forces with NHS Employers to commission this important independent report which will guide planning and decision-making around truly effective workforce integration,” she added. “We will use the report to work with partners to provide further advice and support as local areas develop their approaches to integration.”

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer added the body was committed to working with the LGA and its colleagues in social care to design services and roles which provide the best care to communities and citizens.

“It is vital that we understand and rapidly apply the lessons identified by this report,” he stated. “We look forward to supporting The King’s Fund and the LGA in the next phase of this work.”

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