Last Friday saw the launch of a bold new approach to delivering health and social care to the people of Falkirk district.
The integration of both services puts the needs of the adult population front and centre and lays the foundations for team working that will be built on to support generations to come.
Developed by Falkirk Council and NHS Forth Valley and involving the voluntary and private sectors, the Falkirk Health and Social Care Integration (HSCI) Partnership has been two years in the making.
But it has hit the ground running with the publication of its first strategic plan to bring together expertise, experience and the will to put people first.
Their needs will drive the new approach forward, combining resources in a more effective, efficient and person-focussed way.
New legislation laid the ground work for health and social care partnerships to be established. In Falkirk the package of services will be delivered through an integration joint board (IJB) made up of representatives of Falkirk Council, NHS Forth Valley, the Third Sector, service users and carers and chaired by Councillor Allyson Black.
Now the IJB, through its chief officer, Patricia Cassidy, has the responsibility of planning, resourcing and operating a wide range of health and social care services.
The Scottish Government’s vision is that by 2020 everyone is able to live longer, healthier lives at home or in a homely setting - but that vision will only become a reality by all agencies working together.
To make this way of working successful, it is essential the views of service users, their carers, families and local communities are taken into account in shaping future services.
As a statutory member of Falkirk’s Community Planning Partnership, the HSCI Partnership has a key role, specifically to contribute to the delivery of strategic priorities and outcomes contained in the Strategic Outcomes and Local Delivery Plan.
In the foreword to the 26-page three-year strategic plan produced for the launch, the chair and chief officer agree: “We need to build on our existing partnerships and develop new relationships with people, communities, our workforce and other stakeholders. The main purpose of the HSCI Partnership is to put people at the centre of decisions about their care and support and build on current good practice to change the way we deliver services that are high quality and joined up to meet individual need.
“There are inequalities within our local communities which we aim to address by working with our partners to prevent and reduce the impact of poverty, promote equality of access and improve health and well-being. Equality will be at the heart of everything we do.”
Patricia Cassidy, a former nurse and senior officer with Inverclyde Council, added: “There will be genuine benefits from the new approach for our service users and clients. There are challenges, but exciting times ahead.”
Councillor Black said: “We know there is an opportunity to deliver better outcomes to our communities through true partnership working. The blueprint is there to be developed and turned into an action plan that will work.”