United Kingdom, 14 November 2013 – Third sector organisations (TSOs) were responding to the health and social care needs of individuals and communities before the advent of the NHS and Local Authority led social care systems. Could they now be a solution to the “transformational shift to a more integrated system, so that care is joined up and designed around the needs of the person,” (Guardian, 2013) as called for by Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care and Support?

In the latest special issue of the Journal of Integrated Care, Editors Robin Miller, Helen Dickinson and John Glasby explore how TSOs can contribute to delivering the responsive, flexible and person centred care that is required if health and social care systems are going to positively meet the challenge of addressing increased demand and expectations in a time of financial austerity . This special issue can be freely read until 14 December 2013 by visiting www.emeraldinsight.com/tk/integrated and using the following login details: username: integrated password: emerald2013

The research highlights that when considering the role of the third sector in integrated care, we need to ensure sensitivity to the complexity that surrounds the history and mission of each TSO, the local context in which they work and the changing beneficiaries they seek to serve.

There is evidence to suggest that TSOs could have a real impact on integration by providing direct care shaped around the individual and their families and by facilitating discussion and dialogue between people receiving care and those designing and delivering it.

There are apprehensions, however, relating to their relationship with the public sector, including concerns that the general move from grants to contracts is leading to TSOs being shaped and controlled by their purchasers, and that smaller TSOs may not be able to compete with the private sector.

Co-Editor Robin Miller, Senior Fellow at the University of Birmingham, comments: “The health and social care system in the UK relies on the third sector to play a number of important roles. Countless patients / service users and their families depend upon them for information, advice and emotional support, and they have increasing roles as providers of publicly funded services. Beyond such direct support they also act as champions for patient and users groups, fund new developments and are a source of expertise for policy makers. This special issue considers their contribution to integration in particular, and suggests that the 'third dimension' has much potential as an enabler and deliverer of a holistic and joined up patient / user experience.”

The special issue is made up of five articles:

  • A case study of the Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC), a voluntary sector organisation which provides integrated care to victims of sexual violence. 
  • An evaluation of the needs of stroke survivors and the impact of a ‘Life After Stroke’ service on users.
  • A look at the success of TSO-provided ‘One Stop Shops’ which are a model of integrated delivery, where a range of needs are effectively met in one place through a bespoke, person-centred service that works across organisational and sectorial boundaries.
  • Results from a research project on the positive and negative implications of co-produced health and care services for remote and rural community members.
  • An exploration of the commissioning of preventative services for older people from TSOs and the extent to which the current arrangements promote a holistic and outcomes based response.

‘Integrated care and the third sector’ is published as volume 21, issue 5 of Emerald’s Journal of Integrated Care whose mission is to facilitate the evidence-based integration of health, social care and other community services in order to benefit service users, patients and taxpayers.

Further information about the journal can be found here

The Journal of Integrated Care is one of 31 titles in the Health and Social Care collection published by Emerald Group Publishing: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/products/collections/hsc.htm  
Reference: Lamb, N., and Herklots, H., True integration involves the NHS, local councils and families, Social Care Network, [Online] Available at http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2013/may/15/integration-nhs-local-councils-families 


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