Health and social care refers to healthcare, support and other services for those who need it. It includes healthcare services and social services provided by local authorities, charities, private companies, community organisations and others. Most health and social care in the UK is free at the point of delivery and funded by the NHS.
A combination of economic pressures, demographic shifts and innovations in information technology are increasing the importance of integrated health and social care. It is a key part of delivering better care and improving people’s quality of life. It is also a way to help the system work more efficiently, at a time of financial constraints.
Governments have a unique role to play in promoting integration through policy and payment reform. For example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) is supporting a model where community health workers (CHWs) connect individuals to community resources based on their needs. This approach addresses the social determinants of health and is one way to address underlying risk factors that may impact a person’s ability to live independently in their communities .
While national policies have catalysed integration initiatives, progress toward better outcomes will require validated measures of social risk, engagement of both leadership and frontline staff, and more flexibility from policymakers to align incentives across sectors. To ensure that integrated models are successful, the US should learn from international examples of more advanced budgeting mechanisms such as those found in Sweden, where Norrtalje local authority brought together its original governance structures and pooled funding into a single governing body. health and social care