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Health Matters - Care Communities

As the population gets older, there are more and more people living with multiple long-term health conditions and needing extra help to remain in their own homes – which is where most of us want to be.

Many of our more vulnerable and frail residents will have experienced the frustration of having to tell their story over and again to different care organisations that visit at different times and don’t always seem to work particularly effectively together. However, I’m confident that disjointed care will soon be a thing of the past. And one of the reasons for my optimism is an agreement made by the local NHS and Cheshire East Council last month to develop five care communities across Eastern Cheshire as part of a move towards having a single joined-up care system by 2020.

The care communities would provide integrated health and social care services to populations of between 30,000 and 50,000 people in each of the following localities:

  • Bollington, Disley and Poynton
  • Chelford, Handforth, Alderley Edge and Wilmslow
  • Congleton and Holmes Chapel
  • Knutsford
  • Macclesfield.

The approach would focus particularly on older adults at first but would then be expanded to include children and other vulnerable groups of people. Introduction of the care communities will start this year (2018-19) as part of a five-year plan that will culminate in having a single integrated care system fully operational by 2022-23.

The care communities will be run by health and social care professionals including GPs, community nurses and therapists, providers of mental health services for older people, social care workers and staff providing intermediate care as an alternative to hospital admission or to patients recently discharged from hospital. Over the five years, providers of community and voluntary services will be brought on board while arrangements will be made for the care communities to work closely with providers of regional specialist services such as acute and hyper-acute care, treatment for major injuries and long-term complex mental health care.

By 2023, the aim is to have fully integrated NHS and social care services, working to a contract awarded by the CCG.

Benefits of the care communities will include improved health, increased patient and staff satisfaction, fewer avoidable hospital visits and admissions, and more efficient use of taxpayers’ money. People will have a better understanding of how to stay well and manage their long-term conditions, and there will be more non-emergency services available 24/7.

The care communities will follow a place-based approach that is supported fully by the CCG, council, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and East Cheshire NHS Trust. The care communities build on the successes of community hubs tested out in Knutsford and in Bollington, Disley and Poynton.

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