In our recent series of blogs we have defined and explored three complex areas, which fall under the umbrella of "care":
- Well-being - maintaining a healthy lifestyle, e.g. choices about diet, exercise, complementary therapies;
- Healthcare - managing medical situations, e.g. GP visits, hospital admissions, medication; and
- Social Care - support with activities of daily living, e.g. living with chronic conditions, disabilities, recovering from illness, coping with old age.
Each of these areas has a key role to play in an integrated care system. From a care consumer's perspective care is care. When we need help or support, we are not interested in whether it is called "healthcare" or "social care", we just want someone to help us get what need. Whilst there are recognised places to go for help within certain areas of care, e.g. visiting a GP for medical support, there is no single "integrator" who has a holistic view of all of an individuals care and support needs, other than the care consumer themselves. Whether or not their requirements are met, therefore, depends largely on their own knowledge and experience of what they need, what is available, where to go for that support and their ability to ask the right questions to the right people. This, in our view, can lead to matters slipping between the cracks and contribute to a lower quality of life and higher cost of care overall.
Successive Government policy and current changes in legislation are aimed at empowering care consumers by giving them the opportunity to make choices about their care. This has led to a wealth of data and information being made available to all so that we can find out everything we need to know about whatever it is we want to know about and thus make informed choices.
Whilst Westcott welcomes this in principle, we recognise that data and information in and of itself is not always helpful. Rather, it is the anaysis and interpretation of data leading to relevant, bespoke advice that is vital to ensuring those in need of support receive the right care at the right time from the right provider to meet their specific needs and wishes. By way of an analogy, If we have a legal issue and visit a solicitor we don't expect them to point us to the statute book and say "the answer's in there", we expect them to use their knowledge and experience to give us specific advice, recommendnations and opinions relevant to our personal circumstances.
Independent Care Advisers, like Westcott, are the lynchpin to providing integrated care in our view. They are the "integrators" who have a holistic view of what a client wants and needs, and the experience, knowledge and expertise to help them navigate all areas of the care system in order to get it. This includes funding and other associated areas. In our model of integrated care, Independent Care Advisers sit above the various care systems and providers in order to be able to take a holistic view. They work on behalf of their clients and are responsible for ensuring that they receive the right care at the right time from the right provider. In so doing we believe that they can help improve quality of life and reduce the overall cost of care. In essence, Independebt Care Advisers like Westcott are the conduit for filtering, analysing and interpretting the wealth of available data and information into bespoke advice and solutions to allow care consumers to make the right choices for them. Care requirements are personal and require bespoke solutions. Independent Care Advisers like Westcott can make caring choices simple.