Transforming Your Care has been the key focal point at this week’s annual NICON conference in Belfast.
With over 350 health care professionals, politicians, voluntary and community representatives, service users, and business in attendance, change is the word on everyone’s mind and how it is happening across our health and social care system all the time.
Speaking at the major health and social care event, John Compton, Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board described how Transforming Your Care (TYC) was making progress on a number of fronts and that more meaningful change was well underway.
“In health and social care we have always experienced change but over the last few years this has accelerated and we see it everywhere. Overall, we want to have a service which looks and feels different. A health and social care service which is more accessible with better user experience and outcomes. There has been a ‘quiet revolution’ going on, and this is building energy and a momentum,” he said.
During his speech Mr Compton provided evidence of how change and investment has progressed so far in making services more accessible through the introduction of integrated care partnerships; the reconfiguration of some of our acute hospital services; the moving away from institutional care and introduction of personalised care as well as changes in primary care infrastructure, technology and why there is more prominence on early intervention.
Real life stories about change were presented by Pamela McCreedy, Director of TYC with the Board. She said: “Change is a journey, and making and sustaining changes in our health and social care services in Northern Ireland is no different.
“At the very heart of all that we do is to make people’s lives healthier and easier. This is no different now to how it has always been. So we must hold true to that ideal, and focus on what that means. TYC is introducing more choice and range of services, built and centred around individuals.
“There are a vast range of changes and projects already happening across the system, and this is a great opportunity to showcase how just a few of them are impacting people’s day to day lives. These will be real services and real changes. These demonstrate the growth of community based alternatives – a fundamental component of how we deliver care closer to home, which is at the heart of Transforming Your Care.”
Two of a number of examples presented at the event included re-ablement and day opportunities.
Mrs McCreedy spoke about how Audrey Buick from Cookstown who fell and broke her shoulder and was unable therefore to care for herself when she first came out of hospital. She was introduced to the Northern Health and Social Care Trust’s re-ablement team who provided a range of services to assist Audrey at home to get back to full health rather than keeping her unnecessarily in hospital or refer her to a supported living facility for a short period of time. After weeks of physiotherapy and home care support she is now back to full health.
Audrey says the service was her lifeline: “I don’t know what I would have done without the support of the re-ablement team. I live on my own and these girls helped me to do simple things that I was unable to do when I broke my shoulder like toileting, making my bed, cooking meals and they helped me to regain my confidence and get me back to my full health – they were my lifeline.”
Another real change story illustrated at the conference was Social Farming which aims to provide day opportunities for adults with a learning disability. John McKinney is one of a number of adults who attends a farm in Rathfriland one day each week. John helps on the farm cleaning out the stables; grooming, feeding and riding the horses as well as assisting farmer Dorothy Heath take cattle to the local marts; collect honey from bee hives and general maintenance around the farm.
John says: “I prefer to go to work on the farm rather than go to the day centre. I love working with ‘Star’, my favourite horse, and doing things on my own on the farm because I get lots of opportunities rather than having to share tasks in groups.”
Other real life stories already making a difference included; the role of local pharmacists who are helping reduce unnecessary patient visits to their GP; support for carers; the regional one stop clinic for glaucoma patients and Family Nurse Partnerships which are providing invaluable support for teenage mums.
Mrs McCreedy concluded: “These are just some of the examples clearly demonstrating how TYC initiatives are making real impacts for our patients, users and their families. Looking ahead, there is much for us to do across the whole health and social care system. We are still in the foothold of hat we want and can achieve. We need to deliver planned, measure, and thoughtful changes with proper investment and time given to building alternative service models, and space for collaborative working and innovation. But one thing is certain, we are better together.”