Health and social care is a broad term for the range of services people in the UK might require. These are often organised by local authorities. For example, if you have a health condition and need help with day-to-day living tasks, you can apply to your local authority for a social care assessment. You might then be eligible for a care and support plan that sets out how your needs can be met.
Many of these services are delivered by community groups. Trinity Health’s Hub of Community Health Workers (CHWs) is a good example. CHWs are well placed to know the local needs of their community, because they live there and understand what people face. They can therefore offer a unique perspective on how health and social care work together to improve people’s lives.
A variety of initiatives have been implemented across the globe to integrate social care into healthcare systems. These range from screening patients for social risks and needs in primary care clinics to supporting communities through cross-sector technology referral platforms and health clinic-food bank partnerships. A recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report proposes a framework to guide integration efforts in both practice and policy.
A key challenge is establishing the necessary governance, funding, and enablers for integrated health and social care. Governments must commit to value-based healthcare and provide flexibility for leveraging healthcare dollars toward social-care infrastructure, workforce development, and service delivery. National policies also need to clarify which entities and individuals have responsibility for integration. health and social care