Understanding integrated care from the perspective of patients, service users, and citizens

The formal establishment of integrated care systems (ICSs) across England in 2022 marked an important milestone in the development of policies around integration of health and social care services. With responsibilities for joining up services to improve population health and to help improve people’s lives, these systems have a central role in ensuring that care is designed and delivered in line with people’s needs and preferences.

It is widely accepted and understood that, if services are to be truly person centred, then their users should be engaged and involved in their design and decision-making, and should have a voice in assessing quality. Just as this is true for care providers like hospitals and care homes, so too is it true for ICSs. But whilst many provider services benefit from established ways of working and systematic programmes of patient and service user feedback, understanding people’s experiences of integration presents new challenges.

Picker has been working with policymakers and leaders in integrated care for some years, developing new approaches to measuring and understanding care across pathways and between services. Our work shows that ICSs will benefit from taking a broad approach to this challenge, using a combination of methods to measure, monitor, and make sense of their populations’ experiences, preferences, and priorities.

Working with The King’s Fund, we developed Understanding integration: how to listen to and learn from people and communities as a guide for systems. As ICSs formalise their engagement plans, it remains essential reading for everyone interested in ensuring that services are person centred and organised around the needs of people and communities.

Chris Graham will be discussing “Understanding integration” and more at Integrated Care: Delivering the Long-term Plan conference on Tuesday 11th October 2022. For further details, visit the website here.

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