ICSs have been tasked to produce an integrated care strategy for their local areas, setting out how they plan to deliver better care for their communities. Danielle Oum, ICB and ICP chair for Coventry and Warwickshire ICS, explains how her system is developing a strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of her local population.
Since our formal establishment as an integrated care system (ICS) in July 2022, we have been developing the first interim integrated care strategy for Coventry and Warwickshire ICS. We are working at pace to deliver a strategy and vision that will improve health outcomes, reduce inequalities, and deliver more joined-up, preventative care for our population.
Each ICS has its own unique challenges, but ultimately, we are all working towards the same four aims – to improve health outcomes, tackle inequalities, enhance productivity and value for money, and help the NHS to support broader social and economic development. We must grasp the opportunity to work collaboratively across local government, the NHS and other partners, such as the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector, to deliver on our four core purposes.
The building blocks
Throughout Coventry and Warwickshire, considerable work on integration has been taking place for many years. We established a place forum in 2017 – consisting of our two local authority health and wellbeing boards – which set a vision and principles for how the health and care system across Coventry and Warwickshire should work together. The forum drove work around health inequalities, prevention and population health, laying the foundations for effective partnership working early on. This developed into the Integrated Health and Care Forum, which actively engages partners beyond the integrated care partnership (ICP) to contribute to the strategy development.
...using a bottom-up approach to guide the development of our integrated care strategy
Our two local authorities produce a joint local health and wellbeing strategy, which builds on the work of joint strategic needs assessments – using a bottom-up approach to guide the development of our integrated care strategy, building on the knowledge of our partners in local government and the VCSE sector.
We have turned our focus to how we can add value at system level, acting as a facilitator and enabler for transformation across all levels of the system and ensuring everyone remains committed to our mission and four core purposes as an ICS. ICPs play an important role as a convenor of the system, bringing partners together to look at some of the longer-term issues that require integrated working to succeed, as well as the more immediate operational pressures.
To build the basic structure for our strategy, we started by asking, ‘why’, ‘what’, and ‘how’?
The Why = the vision we have as a system, and what we collectively want to achieve, built around ICSs’ four key purposes.
The vision we agreed as a partnership, is to enable people across Coventry and Warwickshire to start well, live well and age well, promote independence, and put people at the heart of everything we do.
The What = our key focus areas and how the vision can be achieved locally through outcome areas rooted in local priorities.
Our top focus areas include prioritising prevention and health inequalities, improving access to services, and tackling immediate system pressures.
The How = we will achieve these things through greater collaboration and partnership on certain ‘enabler’ areas, such as digital, finance and quality.
Engaging with communities and partners
Co-production with our communities and partners is vital to ensure people are at the heart of what we do. For this, one of the principles we agreed to as an ICP is to engage, listen and learn from the people who are part of, and deliver care in our communities.
The local health and wellbeing strategies that inform our integrated care strategy have been developed with input from a wide range of stakeholders and local people. We are testing our approach through engagements such as forums, community gatherings and events, and online surveys, asking for feedback.
Working as an ICS presents a unique opportunity to do things differently
Engaging and building relationships with our VCSE partners has been a big part of our focus. We are working closely with Healthwatch, mental health organisations, local universities and housing representatives to put population health at the heart of discussions and design services which meet the needs of the whole population.
In Coventry and Warwickshire for example, our urgent community response service – a collaboration between the NHS, social care, primary care and the VCSE sector – provides support for people concerned that their health or mobility has suddenly declined. As well as a two-hour crisis response, the service provides a two-day reablement response to help people regain their skills, confidence and independence following a hospital admission. This is helping to reduce avoidable hospital admissions, reduce demand on our ambulance and NHS services, and improve waiting times by supporting people at home or in the community.
Working as an ICS presents a unique opportunity to do things differently. Once we have published our integrated care strategy at the end of the year, we will be working with partners to set out how to deliver on the ambitions of our strategy and how to hold one another to account. It is an evolving journey that will require the commitment of all partners if we are to succeed and make a meaningful difference.