USW report highlights benefits of health and social care integration

WIHSC Director and Professor of Health and Care Policy, Mark Llewellyn

Professor Mark Llewellyn of WIHSC

A report which looks at the way in which the integration of health and social care is impacting on the workforce is being published today. 

Commissioned by public services trade union UNISON, and written by the Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care (WIHSC), which is based at the University of South Wales (USW), the report aims to improve the understanding of the nature of integration to date, and the ways in which integration can be accelerated in Wales.

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Vaughan Gething AM, joined health and care workers, union representatives and academics for the launch of a report, which provides insights from three practical examples of health and social care integration. 

The WIHSC team – based in the Faculty of Life Sciences and Education at USW – researched the experience of integration in Monmouthshire, Bridgend and Anglesey, interviewing frontline workers and strategic leaders.  

The report identifies the following as enabling excellence in integrated care:

  • Care should be focused on the needs of the individual
  • Care providers must show strong and clear leadership and involve care staff, empowering them to take decisions in the best interests of those receiving care.
  • Care workers should be provided with ongoing support and training.
  • Carers’ trade union representatives have an important role in the planning of caring
  • Integrated care should not necessarily be seen as a ‘cost saver’ but as a ‘service improver’ which leads to effective individual care
  • Acceptance achieving integrated working is mandatory not optional

WIHSC Director and Professor of Health and Care Policy, Mark Llewellyn, said: “Quality care is focused on the individual and their needs, not the structure delivering care. 

"Everyone needs to share that common purpose. The positive message of our report is any obstacles to excellence in care can be overcome if you take the workforce with you and trust their judgement.”

Margaret Thomas, UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary said: “Care and health workers know we have to do care better than this in Wales. 

"They want to be involved in planning care and trusted to make decisions so the needs of the individual are at the heart. You can’t get quality care without investing in the staff and listening to their representatives. 

"This report calls for an acceleration in the scale and pace of health and social care integration. We’ve got to have a more effective service which will help patients and employees alike.”