Cohesion between health and social care providers, local authorities and housing providers is crucial to enable the delivery of care to vulnerable people. Issues around collaboration between organisations in these sectors has been a challenge for some time and is limiting progress.
Collaboration is essential to enable the effective provision of proactive and predictive health and care services.
When collaboration works well, it can improve communication, save time, reduce duplication of effort, improve working relationships and provide a better experience for vulnerable people using housing services.
Collaboration also ensures that housing providers act in the best interests of tenants when making decisions about arranging health and care provision.
A collaborative approach requires professionals, typically from different agencies, to come together to share their knowledge and ideas on how best to care for the people who need it most. It’s also important that collaboration includes communication with service users, to identify where improvements are required and, where possible, co-designing services.
The barriers to collaboration
However, there are numerous barriers to collaborative working, including the geographical areas covered by different stakeholders, statutory responsibilities, contrasting priorities and cultures, and siloed approaches which can’t be successfully replicated across different organisations and sectors.
Health, housing and social care providers don’t have an innovation problem; they have a replication problem which has been exacerbated by the lack of collaboration. We’ve found that successful projects are rarely reproduced elsewhere in the system.
Technology is crucial in enabling collaborative approaches, yet it’s often an afterthought when planning new services. Technologies are rarely integrated into housing developments, and we’re still grappling with the introduction of a ‘personal care record’, where information from numerous devices and interactions with the NHS and care sector is held together.
The role of technology
As highlighted in the government’s recent white paper, “Working together to improve health and social care for all”, technology will play a key role in establishing a modern care platform which is able to meet the needs of a technology-enabled population.
The rapid uptake of technology owing to the pandemic has led to increased acceptance of the role that technology plays in service provision. Whether it’s the use of virtual care platforms, remote monitoring solutions, communication tools, digital apps or sophisticated data platforms, services are entering a new phase of digital maturity.
A health, housing and care system fit for the 21st century must have digital innovation at its core. The digitalisation of care offers incredible opportunities for the health and wellbeing of our population, and for patient outcomes to be dramatically improved.
Health and care technology solutions also provide benefits for staff and care providers within housing developments. Not only can digital solutions streamline workloads and benefit users, but they can also provide a greater sense of job satisfaction, reduced travel and more reassurance that they’ll be alerted in the case of an incident.
Not only can the digitalisation of services improve care models, but it can also encourage tenants to engage in their own health and wellbeing and provide opportunities to deliver community and person-centred care tailored to the specific needs of individuals.
Following the technology acceleration due to the pandemic, we’re beginning to see the next generation of predictive care technologies. Over the next few years, those will encompass integration that enables diverse and scalable models of health and social care. Using AI and taking data-driven insights from multiple sources, providers will use this next generation of solutions to optimise health management programmes by providing personalised and anticipatory care.
There’s never been a more crucial time for service providers, housing organisations and local authorities to collaborate and set out a new vision and commitment to creating a healthy population, with the effective use of technology at its core.
As we recover from the pandemic, these proposals can help us look to the decades ahead with confidence. This is a unique moment when we must continue to build on the bold legacy that makes care and housing provision the very best of Britain – we must seize it.
Zillah Moore is a director at Tunstall Healthcare.