Integrated care is needed, now more than ever: a professional's perspective
Sara-Marie Black offers a personal account of the last 18 months and its emotional, personal and professional impact. While presenting an unprecedented challenge, COVID-19 has also provided an opportunity to learn and reflect, and has emphasised the need, now more than ever, to work collaboratively across health, social and voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors.
As the local integrated partnership project manager, my role was to lead the development of integrated community teams for the borough. This encompassed everything, from health and social care to third-sector organisations and voluntary services.
In March 2020, I received an email on a Sunday evening requesting my redeployment, as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response, to support in the local hospital as the on-site contact for community services. At first, I thought my redeployment would be for a few weeks, due to my limited understanding of the pandemic and its impact at the time. I was based in the integrated discharge team, which is a newly integrated service that includes health and social care colleagues across both Warrington and Halton to support safe discharge.
As the weeks progressed, my role developed on a daily basis as the demand and reality of the pandemic developed and shifted: we began to wear full personal protective equipment (PPE) and see an increase in acute admissions due to COVD-19. Community restrictions were put in place, including limitations on seeing family and friends, and the impact was visible in the empty streets I witnessed during my daily commute to work.
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