Over 40 representatives from community and voluntary organisations across the Southern area came together to promote their services at a recent Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) ‘Speed Networking’ event held in Portadown.
ICPs are collaborative networks of care providers, bringing together healthcare professionals (including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and hospital specialists); the voluntary and community sectors; local council representatives; and service users and carers, to design and coordinate local health and social care services. There are three ICPs in the Southern area: Armagh/Dungannon, Newry/Mourne and Craigavon/Banbridge.
Michele Bekmez, Business Manager for the Southern ICPs explains, “Community and voluntary organisations are a key partner in ensuring the success of ICPs in focusing on how care is delivered to older people and those with stroke, diabetes and respiratory conditions. We are really keen to find out more about the range of services being provided by the community and voluntary sector, to establish networks that can improve integration, and provide efficient and effective services for patients. We know there is a huge amount of work going on in the community to keep people healthy, or to support people living with long term conditions, and we wanted to create an event to develop opportunities to work more closely with those services to transform care and prevent ill health.”
The ‘Speed Networking’ event included an introduction to the work of ICPs by the Southern area Clinical Lead, Dr Bernard McCoy, followed by a series of fast-paced 3 minute presentations from local organisations.
Dr McCoy says, “As a local GP, I know that medical professionals are often not aware of the full spectrum of support services available in the community. This event was a huge success in raising awareness of the broad range of person-centred services being delivered by the community and voluntary sector which could add value to medical pathways for people with long term conditions. For many representatives, it was also the first opportunity to meet other colleagues from the third sector locally so the event has helped to create lots of connections for potential partnership working in the future.”
During 2015-16, Southern ICPs secured funding from the Southern Local Commissioning Group to set up a pilot Rapid Access Respiratory Clinic at Craigavon Area Hospital to test a model that would enable people with respiratory problems to be seen on the same day as they are referred by their GP, reducing the numbers of people having to be admitted to hospital. The ICPs also secured funding for a specialist telephone service for families of children with diabetes who can speak to a Diabetic Specialist Nurse at any time of day or night for advice if their child becomes unwell.