Ashleigh Fox, Transforming Care Director, Catalyst Care Group
Collaborative working within Transforming Care involves professionals across a range of disciplines working together to plan, implement and provide care and support for individuals who might have acquired challenging reputations. Alignment and integration are essential for improving outcomes for people, as well as significantly speeding up the discharge process – especially for people who have been detained in hospital for extended periods of time.
Some of the barriers to integration might be:
- Lack of communication and information sharing: Communication is key when working with people, especially when so many variables need to fall into place to facilitate a complex transition. It is important to adopt and use the same terminology, ensure professionals are working together wherever possible, and to facilitate faster information sharing to avoid unnecessary delays in care or treatment.
- Knowledge boundaries and silos: There are so many different professionals in our sector, and reluctance to cross boundaries or think creatively might hinder efforts to support faster discharges and care implementation. As leaders, it is important to give our teams the flexibility to think freely to make things happen.
- Resistance to change: As humans we all find change difficult, but reluctance to change our ways of working to align with wider systems can impede high quality care being delivered on the front line. This tension creates conflict, leading to reduced collaboration – a mindset shift towards working for the individual (and greater) good needs to be adopted and it is our role to support our people towards this.
- Lack of trust: True integration requires trust and mutual respect between people. However, often people have various levels of experience, training, and exposure to the sector, and this could result in power dynamic differences. It is important to open lines of communication between all stakeholders, explaining we are all starting from the same baseline, and that every stakeholder has an equal voice.
- Resource constraints: The biggest issue in our health and social care sector is a lack of resource across the board. Limited funding and staffing play a huge part in challenging integration when working in community care. This leads to a lack of coordination, resulting in reduced quality of care and poorer outcomes for people. As leaders, we should work to recognise this from the outset, and ensure we are there for our people, serving their needs and supporting wherever possible. This is an issue that is not going anywhere fast, and yet it is critical for people to get the support they need.
Addressing these barriers requires a real-time, concerted effort from everyone involved to make impact one person at a time. At a higher level, we know policymakers need to address these things head on, but we know that will not give us immediate results.
One concept to consider is Edmondson’s “teaming.” Oftentimes, as professionals we are responsible for a significant group, or caseload, of people and we need to work with different professionals to make change happen, forming squads, or “small teams on the fly” where outcomes need to be met in short spaces of time.