This week’s theme is about how health and social care staff are working together in Leeds. We hear from Emma, part of the council’s corporate communications team in our Talking heads section, read an example of how staff working together has helped a couple from Pudsey, and hear first hand below from Jayne who works in Armley.
Social workers, nurses and community matrons now work together in neighbourhood teams across Leeds. Each of the 12 teams is closely linked with local GP practices, working closely with practice staff, sharing information and taking part in joint meetings to discuss patients with more complex needs. Some of the teams have been up and running now for over a year – so what do staff think of their new working arrangements? We’ll be talking to some of them and bringing you their thoughts over the next few months. Today we hear from Jayne, a district nurse in west Leeds.
Jayne has been working in the Armley neighbourhood team since October, as a district nurse caseload manager. We asked her what she thought about the benefits of working in a more integrated way.
“Care for patients has been speeded up. That’s because we’re working primarily in the same office as the community matrons and the social workers; we can discuss things together. Only yesterday I referred somebody who needed urgent social care input. I was able to go and speak to one of the social workers and explain the patient’s situation. Because we’ve got a better relationship I asked if it can be speeded up a bit.”
Jayne also talked about the benefits of working closely with other teams based in the same building, such as the adult safeguarding team and the intermediate care team – and how this has helped them understand more about each other’s roles.
While this new way of working is already seeing benefits, it hasn’t been without its challenges. Jayne explains:
“At the minute we have a district nursing team office upstairs and the integrated team downstairs, so as a manager I’m trying to manage the team and be visible upstairs but also trying to work with the team downstairs. Sometimes it feels as though I’m supposed to be in two places at once. Also, in my ideal world we should all be working from the same computer system. It’s a big challenge being on two totally different systems.”
Neighbourhood teams were rolled out gradually across the city, so it’s still quite new for some members of staff. We asked Jayne what she would say to anyone who was still feeling uncertain about the approach.
“I would say it definitely eases your workload because you can do a lot more by talking to colleagues and discussing patients. I had a patient who desperately needed some social care but had some memory problems. I discussed it with the social worker who said I needed to go back to the GP and organise a memory assessment first because it would speed up the social care. It’s just little things like that that really benefit your working day. Everything’s time consuming if you’re faxing and waiting for replies, whereas if you’re all working in one office, it’s just so much better.”
A bit about the background …
It’s both a national and citywide priority to transform support for older people and those with long-term conditions, and a major part of that approach is to ensure services are better co-ordinated and as seamless as possible. It’s not about formal integration so much as making sure people, processes and services work together more effectively. Neighbourhood teams are only part of the story – GPs, hospital and other staff are working ever more closely together in a bid to reduce duplication, strengthen links between services and use resources effectively. At the end of the day, it’s all about having well-co-ordinated, cost-effective services wrapped around the needs of the people who use them, and focused on the same thing: helping people to have better lives than they do now.
Read more about integrated health and social care on the council’s website www.leeds.gov.uk/transform