An annual report into the work of the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership has been warmly received by partners.
Members of the Integration Joint Board (IJB) – which is made up NHS Grampian, Aberdeenshire Council, trade unions and the third sector – heard the partnership has continued to make strong progress towards delivery of its strategic plan to ensure “safe, sustainable and effective models” of integrated care for North-east communities.
But it said it recognised the significant demographic change with a rising population of older people and increasing pressure on financial resources which means current models of service delivery are unsustainable.
The IJB also acknowledged that the Partnership had experienced a £3.4 million overspend – which accounted for one percent of its overall budget.
Adam Coldwells, chief officer of the Partnership told the IJB: “I’m really delighted to bring this report to you. I hope that as a report it continues to give you encouragement, confidence and assurances as a board that the provision we are making for the population of Aberdeenshire remains good.
“We are a good performing area in Scottish terms and that’s all good for our population. In my mind and from my team we think this is a very positive view and something to be proud of.”
Joyce Duncan of NHS Grampian described the report as “pretty exceptional” and said what had been achieved across the Shire should not be underestimated.
IJB chair Rhona Atkinson of NHS Grampian said: “There are key challenge areas we face – the impact of demographic change and how to mitigate against it – that’s only going to increase and become more demanding.
“And how to continue to deliver high quality, person centred care within ongoing resource constraints. We can do so much with the same pots of money and the same resources but eventually you exhaust them. These are challenges and we should bear them in mind.”
Recruitment and retention difficulties across a number of professions, it said, alongside other significant changes and developments affecting the workforce also have the potential to impact significantly on the Partnership’s ability to provide “safe, effective and high quality services”.
Among the Partnership’s key achievements in terms of its ‘Engagement’ priority, the IJB heard that there had been “wide-ranging and in-depth” community discussions by the partnership to inform development of its new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy with a particular focus on gaining input from those with lived experience.
The Partnership has also undertaken a review of Minor Injury Units across Aberdeenshire with the creation of local implementation groups to ensure “local solutions” and extensive public engagement and involvement.
The IJB heard that in term of the partnership’s ‘Prevention and Early Intervention’ priority, the first year of implementation of a Primary Care Improvement Plan began to deliver the new national GP contract, with a specific focus on planning around the expansion of the primary care workforce locally.
A broad range of healthy lifestyle interventions have also been delivered as part of the Aberdeenshire Health Improvement Delivery Plan,.
And a number of developments have progressed through the Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drugs Partnership to provide support and services for people affected by the problematic use of alcohol and drugs, including the provision of community detoxification services across Aberdeenshire, delivered by HSCP substance misuse teams.
‘Tackling Inequalities and Public Protection’ policy has seen a continued focus on engaging with and improving support to unpaid carers.
The partnership has developed information for carers about the support available to enable them to have a break from their caring role, and have been supporting carers to access training and development opportunities, to enable them to gain formal recognition for their caring role.
An increasing priority has been given to how the Partnership can address inequalities when planning and recruiting to new posts as part of the roll out of our Primary Care Improvement Plan.
Meanwhile, the Partnership says priority for ‘Reshaping Care’ has seen sites in north and central Aberdeenshire “refocusing the balance of homecare provision” to ensure the internal homecare service is focussed on key priority areas of care and to make better use of staffing and financial resources.
The Virtual Community Ward model has also continued to evolve and be embedded across local teams which ARE “positively impacting on avoidable hospital admissions”.
Work has continued on progressing developments in technology-enabled care with the aim of improving and modernising access to care and services which has included the use of an app to enable patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to self-manage their symptoms.
The Partnership’s fifth priority – ‘Effective use of resources’ – saw the IJB singled out for maintaining “effective scrutiny and governance” of resources within a challenging financial climate.
A review of services for people with additional support needs has also been implemented including overnight care arrangements and development of new residential provision.
The new Inverurie Health and Care Hub also opened allowing the co-location of a range of services for the local community of over 24,000 people.
By Ken Duncan
Local Democracy Reporter