Introduction: Demographic ageing is one of the major challenges for governments in developed countries because older people are the main users of health and social care services. More joined-up, partnership approaches supported by information and communications technologies (ICTs) have become key to managing these demands. This article discusses recent developments towards integrated care in the context of one of the arenas in which integration is being attempted, the Single Assessment Process (SAP) to support the care for older people in England. It draws upon accounts of local SAP implementations in order to assess and reflect upon some of the successes and limitations of service integration enabled by ICTs. Description of care practice: At the Department of Health in England, policy and strategy are directed at the integration of services through a ‘whole systems’ approach, with services that are interdependent upon one another and organised around the person that uses them. The Single Assessment Processes (SAP) is an instance of inter-organisational and cross-sectoral sharing of information intended to improve communication and coordination amongst professions and agencies and so support more integrated care. The aim of SAP is to ensure that older people receive appropriate, effective and timely responses to their health and social care needs and that professionals do not duplicate each others efforts. This article examines examples from two programmes of work within the context of SAP in England: one with the direction coming from local government social services, the other where the momentum is coming from the National Health Service (NHS). Conclusion and discussion: Both examples show that the policy and practice of ICT-supported integration continues to represent a significant challenge. Although the notion of integrated care underpinned by ICT-enabled information sharing is persuasive, it has limitations in practice. The notion of an ‘open systems’ approach is proposed as an alternative way of improving communication and coordination across the domains of health and social care.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||International Journal of Integrated Care|
|Publication status||Published - 25 Jun 2007|