Award for care integration goes to Scottish psychology project

An innovative partnership team working to improve the lives of older people across North Lanarkshire has won a national award.

The Psychology Project triumphed in the Health and Social Care Integration category at the Herald Society Awards on Thursday November 6. The night celebrates best practice in the public and voluntary sector.

The Project has seen frontline health and social care staff trained in basic psychology techniques by small team of NHS Lanarkshire Psychologists.  Staff are then using the core skills to improve outcomes – and lives – of older people in local communities. 

Jenny Hutton, Service Manager, Older Adults Team at North Lanarkshire Council, has played a lead role in the team. She explained: “We’re delighted to have been recognised in this way and it’s testament to the hard work and commitment of all involved.”

The first of its kind in Scotland, the psychology initiative has been funded by the Reshaping Care for Older People programme, which aims to support growing numbers of people aged 65 years and over by providing more care at home, in homely settings and in the community. 

Jenny continued: “The weeks following a significant event such as a hospital admission, a fall, or a sudden episode of poor health are critically important in terms of people’s health beliefs.

“They also present a window of opportunity to change expectations about coping and the future in positive and empowering ways.

“The Psychologists are well placed to work with staff groups, like home support (who can assist with tasks such as washing, dressing and domestic duties) on equipping them with psychological approaches that support and empower people to live well at home.”

The NHS Lanarkshire Psychology team consist of a senior psychologist, Dr Susan Ross, and two health psychology trainees, Heather Locke and Catherine Murray, and is embedded within North Lanarkshire Council Older Adults Team.

Dr Ross said: “In essence, we’re training staff to try and understand the thoughts and emotions behind the behaviours – and then seek to address these to change the behaviours.

“The general focus is on self care, working closely with an individual over a limited time to build up skills and confidence and maximise their ability to live independently, safely and well.”

The win is timely. A new Act requires health boards and local authorities to integrate their adult health and social care services.

In April 2015, integration goes live in local areas, led locally by the respective South and North Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCP).

Janice Hewitt Chief Officer of the North Lanarkshire HSCP said: “Integration is about a whole system, a whole journey and having the best people in place to provide support that’s needed.

“This award reflects the strength of our partnership and bodes well for the future.

Councillor Jim Smith, Chair of the Transition Integration Board for North Lanarkshire and depute leader of North Lanarkshire Council, added: “This recognition underlines the expertise, innovation and commitment of staff working together to improve lives and outcomes for people.”

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