St Helens Council has been shortlisted for one of the UK’s most prestigious awards open to local government, for its innovative work on the integration of health and social care services.
St Helens Cares was established to improve the care for St Helens residents and address the growing pressures on health and social care by tackling the challenge of cost and demand in partnership with other providers and organisations.
The project has reached the finalist stage for the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Awards 2019, in the Health and Social Care category.
Made up of a wide range of public sector providers including St Helens Council, NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and housing group, Torus – St Helens Cares is an integrated approach to supporting people to live well, with a focus on preventing the need for health and social care by helping people to remain independent for as long as possible.
St Helens Cares has already gained national acclaim, after the project beat two cities and a strong shortlist to top the Care and Health Integration category at the Municipal Journal (MJ) Achievement Awards 2018 in London.
The St Helens Cares model – which could save residents in St Helens £80m by 2020 – is unique as it includes other services and support such as housing, education and arts and culture.
One of the key elements to St Helens Cares is the development of a Shared Care Record for each resident in the borough which gives health and care professionals an overview of the patient’s health and care record, including GP appointments, medication and hospital referrals.
This reduces the need for patients to repeat information, giving clinicians the full picture when treating patients – especially in emergency situations where understanding the full history of a person is vital.
While the formation of a new Contact Cares team based at Nightingale House, attached to Whiston Hospital – made up of a number of multi-agency staff including Contact Cares advisors, care and support staff, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, community nurses, and housing officers – is also contributing to a number of benefits including closer communication, quicker response times, reduced hospital admissions and memory screening training to spot the early signs of dementia.
Councillor Marlene Quinn, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “Demand for health and social care is continually increasing. By 2037, it is estimated that the number of people aged over 80 in St Helens will have tripled. Locally, we have distinct challenges that are also increasing pressure on services including: falls, mental health and high numbers of children with disabilities.
“If we are to meet these complex challenges, set against reducing budgets, we must invest and innovate, and do so together for the good of our residents.”
St Helens Council’s Strategic Director for People’s Services and Accountable Officer for St Helens CCG, Professor Sarah O’Brien, added:
“This new way of working through Contact Cares has had a significant positive impact on the delivery of services including the reduction of duplication between teams and services, reduction in avoidable contact and inappropriate referrals, and has reduced the length of stay in hospital and delayed transfer of care.
“We’ve already been recognised nationally for this ambitious and sustainable work, and while I hope we can bring home another accolade the main reward we hope to get out of St Helens Cares is the satisfaction of knowing that we are working to improve the lives of people in St Helens, helping them to lead healthier lifestyles and remain as independent as possible for longer.”
The shortlisted organisations will now complete presentations and interviews to a specific judging panel made up of senior and influential figures within local government.
The winners of the LGC Awards will then be announced at a prestigious ceremony on 13 March 2019 at Grosvenor House, London which will be attended by more than 1,100 people from local government and its partner organisations.
LGC editor Nick Golding said: “The councils that have been shortlisted for an LGC Award are among the most innovative – and their innovation is providing the best services for residents, despite local government facing enormous budget cuts.
“The officers and councillors of shortlisted councils deserve enormous credit for thinking of new ways to deliver the best services, ensuring vital services thrive in the era of austerity.”