New way of organising health and care across the community during COVID-19

A new way of organising health and care across the community has helped people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly receive integrated, person-centred services since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Care staff at Cornwall Council working alongside health colleagues in NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT) and Volunteer Cornwall, bringing together social care workers, community nursing, therapy and support teams, primary care including doctors and practice nurses as well as mental health teams, plus a range of volunteers to work essentially as ‘one stop shops’ from three community coordination centres (CCC) across the county.

Helen Charlesworth-May, NHS Kernow and Cornwall Council’s joint chief officer for health, care and wellbeing, said: “I am delighted at how quickly and successfully the teams have embraced working more closely together to make sure that through this difficult time people receive the help they need. This may be our new normal during the pandemic but our ambition is that it will become business as usual post the outbreak.”

Despite the teams usually working in different ways, hours and shifts, they quickly adapted to working alongside one another.

Phil Confue, chief executive of Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “I would like to thank the commitment and dedication of the teams working across the health and care system and the voluntary sector for quickly making sure this integrated approach was available to the people who need care outside of hospital. This is an approach that has been vital during the pandemic but which we will wish to continue once the outbreak comes to an end.”

Stewart Smith, a GP partner at St Austell Healthcare, said: “The ultimate goal of everyone working in health and care is to keep people as well as possible, both physically and in their mental wellbeing, especially during these difficult times where there is unprecedented pressure on the NHS and care teams.

“People have been able to avoid unnecessary trips to their surgery and even hospital because of the new arrangements we have put in place with GPs and practice staff working alongside teams who provide care within the community, and the voluntary sector. Where people have been taken into hospital but are well enough to leave, the community coordination centres have been able to make sure that they can return either to their home or close to their home.”

Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for adults, councillor Rob Rotchell, added: “In ordinary times, organising multi-disciplinary teams to tackle a particular issue would take time to arrange – but this is no ordinary time.

“Team Cornwall is leading the way by highlighting the success of unity. ‘All For One’ has certainly taken on an entirely new reality over the past few weeks and, in this case, one which will benefit our residents needing health and social care services for many years to come.”

Ian Jones, Volunteer Cornwall chief executive, said: “This is an important development as it is not only about the integration of formal health and care structures, but it also links people with local community support. It is in recognition that we must work together to address the various needs of the most vulnerable members of our communities. The people of Cornwall are very keen to help as can be seen by 4,000 people signing up to assist with the COVID-19 emergency and with hundreds of community groups providing additional assistance.

“We are on a journey where people really are at the centre of service delivery, where we ask about what matters to them and not simply about what is the matter with them.”

Case study
Principal social worker for older adults, Tonya MacKenzie-Burke is based at the Chy Trevail community coordination centre in Bodmin, and says that one of the many benefits of the newly integrated teams has been a more developed understanding of each other’s responsibilities.

The teams prioritise all new referrals and decide which service is best placed to provide the care requested as quickly as possible within the resources available. They have been actioning on average over 300 referrals a week.

She said: “One referral we received was an extremely vulnerable resident who needed some urgent personal care, help with shopping, meal planning, cooking and some medication collected from the chemist.

“The voluntary sector helped with the meal planning, shopping and collecting the medication. The adult social care team organised an agency to provide some longer term personal care while NHS Kernow was able to schedule an immediate home visit.”

Added on 01/06/2020, in News - Case studies / News