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January 2012

Lessons to learn from our integrated working

Over the last decade the children's sector has been transformed by the three principles of common outcomes, early intervention and integrated working.

The workforce has expanded, the level of training and qualifications has increased, and multi-agency teams have sprung up. Now adult services is looking to follow by bringing together health services with social care - and they hope to learn from lessons, both good and bad, from our sector.

One lesson really stands out - if you really want to bring sectors together, you must focus on workforce development. In the short term you could create a good team of health and social care professionals by just changing the way existing staff work.

Good information-sharing, joint assessment, and shared ways of working, leadership and priorities all contribute to improvements. But if that is all you do, once the original pioneers move on to new jobs, the team will start to break up and return to its old divisions. A generation of short-term initiatives in children's services testifies to this.

But if you want long term change, you need to alter training. You need health staff to be able to interchange freely with social care staff, with transferable skills, to understand each other's jobs, and apply for jobs in each other's structures.

You want qualifications to become connected, so individuals can chart a career which crosses between the two sectors. You want common induction systems, common language. Gradually you want the two sectors to become one combined.

This is the journey the children's sector has travelled. We have a duty now to help our colleagues in adult services as they start down the same road.   

Find out more about available integrated working publications. 

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Other stories in the January edition of CWDC News are:

Page updated: 30 January 2012

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