Integrated Care is one of the HSE's most significant programmes. Our reform team is working with all stakeholders to integrate health and social care services as part of a long-term programme to improve and streamline care for Irish citizens.
Integrated Care aims to join up our health and social care services, improving quality and putting patient outcomes and experiences at the centre of everything we do. It means changing the way that care is provided, so that people with complex needs can live healthier and more independent lives.
The HSE's Clinical Strategy and Programmes Division is leading a large-scale programme of work to develop a system of Integrated Care within our health and social care services. This is a long-term programme of change and improvement for our health and social care services, and will involve people at every level of the health service working together to create improved experiences and outcomes for the people in our care.
Integrated care has the patient perspective as an organising principle of service delivery. It is based on the principles of illness prevention, patient empowerment, multi-disciplinary cross-service care planning and delivery, where all health and social care services work together to provide a flexible network of care responsive to the changing needs of patients and their families. Achieving this will involve public and private providers, patient groups, clinicians and the voluntary sector - indeed all healthcare stakeholders.
Integrated care is not a new concept and arises from the consequences of fractures in systems and delivery that allow individuals to ‘fall through the gaps’ in care – e.g. primary/secondary care, health/social care, mental/physical health care. The need to address fragmentation in health systemsis increasing as more people live longer and with complex co-morbidities. Integrated care is most effective when it is population-based and takes into account the holistic needs of patients.
“Integrated health service delivery comprises the management and delivery of health services such that people receive a continuum of health promotion, health protection and disease prevention services, as well as diagnosis, treatment, long-term care, rehabilitation, and palliative care services through the different levels and sites of care within the health system and according to their needs”(adapted from PAHO, 2011).
The WHO has provided a framework including five inter-dependant strategic directions to support people-centred and integrated health services with key actions (WHO/HQ, 2015).
1. Empowering and engaging people
2. Strengthening governance and accountability
3. Reorienting the model of care
4. Coordinating services
5. Creating and enabling environment
Four Integrated Care Programmes
There are four Integrated Care Programmes being introduced on a phased basis. The four Integrated Care Programmes will work with the existing National Clinical Programmes, our Service Divisions and other key enablers to ensure the correct business supports are available to deliver seamless person-centred, co-ordinated health and social care services.
These four areas will allow us to tackle the most pressing challenges in our health and social care systems, and improve outcomes and experiences for the greatest number of patients – and for our staff. Each of the programmes is developing a framework for the management and delivery of health and social care services, and an implementation plan to be followed over the coming two to five years. National Clinical Advisors and Group Leads are appointed to each of the care divisions. These roles are key to integrating clinical design with operations as these individuals work with the CSPD and the five Care Divisions. Also, a programmatic approach is being adopted for design and development of the ICPs and each ICP has a senior programme manager to coordinate its programme for work.