Integration of Health and Social Care set to Rationalise Care System in Scotland

Changes in the organisation of care in Scotland

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The Scottish Government have introduced a new Framework for Clinical and Care Governance which will integrate health and social care for the first time. The aim of the new law, which comes into play from April 2015 is to simplify the process of receiving care at home and facilitate the transition from home or hospital care into full time nursing home residency.

The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Bill was passed in February 2014. It put in place the framework for integrating health and social care in Scotland and had cross-party political support in the Scottish Parliament.

The act will ensure that local councils and the NHS will unify in order to streamline services provided to service users. Care for the elderly will be revolutionalised in what is being described as one of the most significant NHS reforms in recent years.

The Bill allows health boards and local authorities to integrate health and social care services in two ways. It is up to the health boards and local authorities to agree which approach is best for local requirements.

Option one allows the health board and local authority to delegate the responsibility for planning and resourcing service provision for adult health and social care services to an integrated joint board.

Option two allows the health board or the local authority to take the lead responsibility for planning, resourcing and delivering integrated adult health and social care services.

How will this directly affect care for the elderly?

In Scotland, from April 1 2015, a person should not wait more than 14 days between being discharged from hospital care and being placed in more specific, appropriate care. This more than halves current waiting guidelines of four weeks.

The new law sets to hand over around three-quarters of health board and local authority social care budgets to the new integrated framework, ensuring that both organisations are co-ordinating care at every level.

The integration of health and social services means that arrangements must include social care in addition to clinical (medical) care, where appropriate. It is about trying to bring together the systems and structures that exist in both types of care in order to improve and simplify the process for patients.