Health and Social Care Integration
Social care is a key component of the healthcare system, as many health issues have underlying social causes. It can help people live longer, stay well and reduce the likelihood of needing health services. It also offers nurturance, personal advice and financial assistance.
Integrated social care and traditional health care are working well for many countries. They are improving outcomes for people and reducing costs at a time when health and social care budgets are under pressure. However, integrating these two sectors is complex and requires different skill sets. For example, some professionals need to understand a person’s health needs and others need to be able to identify social care options for their clients.
In the US, national policies have catalyzed initiatives to test new integrated models. Some examples include requiring managed care organizations (MCOs) to screen for social risk and develop plans to address it, as well as linking health-related and social needs data. Others incorporate addressing social risk into contract requirements, while still others include it in organizational structure and governance.
These new models require a change in the way we think about health and social care, and their implications for policy, funding and management. Conventional thinking conveniently conceptualises these sectors as self-contained areas with their own spheres of financing, provision and research. In this article, Jon Glasby challenges that view, and shows how they can be better aligned to achieve better outcomes for both patients and society. health and social care