As the squeeze on the public purse gets tighter, there has never been a greater need to look at how we organise Doncaster’s health and social care services to ensure they deliver the best possible outcomes for the more than 300,000 people we look after.
Over the years, attempts have been made to introduce new or different ways of providing ‘integrated’ care, which sounds very complicated but should not be.
It simply means bringing together people from different organisations to provide care in a seamless way.
This means having staff with different roles working together to provide care at, or close to, home.
Crucially, it means the patient does not have to deal with a number of different people if they have any queries.
They work together as a team, so they all understand the patient’s needs.
The new Better Care Fund has been introduced by the Government in response to two key factors: our ageing population; and the increasing number of people living with one or more long-term health conditions, such as diabetes and ongoing heart problems.
Doncaster’s BCF will help integrate health and social care services.
It is an opportunity to develop different ways of providing services, using money from existing budgets.
The annual budget will be about £24 million, but it’s not new money.
It’s largely from Doncaster’s current NHS budget, but from April 2015 it will be pooled with Doncaster Council to jointly fund developments such as improved equipment and housing adaptations services to help people stay in their own home as their mobility reduces.
There will also be more help for people with dementia and their carers, better support for people discharged from hospital and new types of day services.
In Doncaster, we are ahead of the game when it comes to setting out what we want to do with the BCF.
We are one of only six areas in the country to have had our plans approved by the Government without issue.
It means we can move forward in the knowledge we have developed good ideas to help solve local problems.
The plans have been agreed with Doncaster’s health and wellbeing board and in future columns I will be discussing what some of the new initiatives mean in reality for Doncastrians.
Doncaster’s focus is on developing services at home, or close to where people live, to help them stay well and avoid an unplanned stay in hospital.
It is about making the most efficient and effective use of our local health and social care resources.
By developing local community services, we can help those who have long term health problems to live well in their own homes for as long as possible, so they do not have to go into residential care early. This is done by carefully monitoring their health so any deterioration can be noticed quickly.