BASW position paper: Integration (March 2016)
Reasons for developing a BASW policy on “integration”
BASW is developing a policy in relation to the integration of health and social care in response to developments in national policy by all the major political parties. The key aim of the policy will be to help social work practitioners understand the concepts of “integration” and to examine the implications for social work and the social model of care of the move towards more integrated health and social care. BASW will come to a view on the implications of “integration”, which will become a policy. This paper is to help move towards the establishment of a BASW policy.
Following the crisis in accident and emergency departments in recent years there is a growing consensus among political parties about “integration” of health and social care services.
While there has been a focus on the difficulties of A&E and community health services in the current crisis there is also a longer term challenge in the ability of social care services to meet the needs of a growing dependent population. Wider demographic and social changes have increased the number of older people with complex conditions and disabilities dependent on ever scarcer social care services and weaker support within their family and community. Informal support systems in families and communities are recognised in recent policy from Government as essential for the health and social care systems to be able to cope and there are initiatives to try and support communities via early intervention and preventative services in order to reduce the pressure on health and social care support services.
Current national policy discussion runs the risk that the role of social work and social care services is seen as being adjuncts to health services. The points below highlight ways in which the contribution of social work to a more integrated health and care service needs to be recognised.