Location, location, location: re-branding to break down healthcare barriers

What do the words ‘location, location, location’ have to do with re-branding, the new health and social care agenda, and the push to break down historical barriers to integration between agencies around place based care? The answer – well from my perspective anyway, is everything.

The launch of Devo Manchester’s new devolved responsibilities around health and social care has brought the whole concept of joined-up multiple agency health and social care integration to the forefront of people’s minds.

However, up and down the country teams of organisations and groups have been busy trying to bring this vision to life in different guises for a few years now – with project teams sitting round tables looking at how to develop genuine integration across multiple agencies to deliver true joined-up patient-centered care.

Two years ago I was in a similar team working alongside colleagues in East Cheshire on their ‘Caring Together’ project. We like other areas, were looking at how to seamlessly integrate primary and secondary care, mental health and special services and social services all together for local people – finding a way to ensure that people stopped falling through the gaps in the care net, and trying to create a new system where people were the main focus of activities ie patient centered-care in a place based environment. And as well, encouraging local residents to take more responsibility for their own health and well-being and care for themselves better.

We effectively were trying to create a caring system where everyone was equally responsible for the health and well-being of the local residents, whichever agency they belonged to. And also encourage that same local community to play their part in looking after their own health and well-being.

For me the answer was ‘location, location, location’.

Yes when I say the words ‘location, location, location’, the first thing that comes into your mind is probably Phil and Kirstie from the TV series about moving homes, and that’s what gave me the inspiration. People choose where they want to live/ to belong: which area makes them feel comfortable, provides the right choice of schooling, shops, social interactions etc. It is usually the upper most determining factor that drives the eventual house buying choice.

For me this chimes completely with the concept of developing place based care; genuine integration of services around patients and harnessing the power of self-care. People aspire to live and belong to areas, so that same passion needs to be harnessed and adapted.

For me the answer was to re-brand all agencies in one place/area either as one entity or as a place/area eg ‘East Cheshire’. As such, not only do I choose to live in this area, but it also encourages me to choose to properly care for the people of the area (taking total responsibility and not passing the buck waiting for the next agency along the line to pick up what I didn’t) and ensure that I as a resident use the health and care services effectively and wisely.

Unfortunately I must have been a few years ahead of myself and my re-branding concept suggestion was not taken up. But I was interested to learn with the launch of Devo Manc that my concept is starting to take shape – not entirely as I foresaw (or still think would work), but starting along those lines.

In the Platt Bridge neighbourhood of Wigan individuals from a range of agencies who operate in the area: health, council, police, housing and more, ritualistically remove the badges from around their necks and put them in a pile when they are discussing their local integration project. They do not represent the interests of their organisations during the discussions instead they are there to improve the lives of the people in Platt Bridge.

By taking off their name badges they are removing their individual identities in terms of the agencies they work for and the silo working that is attached to them. Instead, they are starting to work together to look at what's best for the communities they serve. They are starting to change their organisational cultures by breaking down barriers and changing their workforce dynamics – encouraging collaboration across the entire footprint of the area.

No, Platt Bridge does not entirely follow my re-branding area concept but it shows that it has legs. Yes I might have been several years ahead of the game with my vision, but that doesn’t mean that I was wrong, it just means that it is still to come…

Call me to find out more about my re-branding concept and how I can help you make it become a reality – always happy to chat.

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