The way the NHS and the wider health and care system is managed on a local level is changing, with the launch of South West London Integrated Care System (ICS) on 1 July. This means a bigger focus on partnership working, to help people live healthier happier lives and reduce health inequalities – unfair differences in health because of social circumstances.
The ICS brings health and care organisations closer together than ever before
The ICS brings health and care organisations closer together than ever before – so collective resources can be used to meet people’s needs most effectively. New legislation, outlined in the 2022 Health and Social Care Act, also makes it easier for GPs, hospitals, mental health and community services and social care to work together.
Under the new arrangements, voluntary and community organisations will have a vital role in the partnership. In Wandsworth this is demonstrated in new approaches to mental wellbeing, developed by the Ethnicity and Mental Health Improvement Project (EMHIP) in partnership with South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust and the current CCG team in Wandsworth, in collaboration with the Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network (WCEN).
Addressing health inequalities in mental health is a key element of our new health and care plan
EMHIP is just one of the exciting initiatives in Wandsworth’s Health and Care Plan, which launches this summer. The programme seeks to reform the landscape of mental wellbeing in the borough and follows decades of campaigning by the community for change in mental health services.
According to Dr Nicola Jones, Wandsworth NHS Place Based Lead: “Addressing health inequalities in mental health is a key element of our new health and care plan. Community-led care can improve access, experience, and outcomes in mental health for everyone and reduce inequalities. Success can only be achieved with the expertise and connections the voluntary sector brings to reach all of our diverse communities.”
One of several initiatives to feature in the EMHIP programme is a ground-breaking crisis family placement service. It offers support to people facing serious mental health challenges, in the homes of host families from the community.
It is good to see the community coming together to tackle mental illness
Mental Health nurse and project manager Tandi Charmaine Kuwana explained: “We are offering a new choice of care, where people facing a crisis are offered support in the home of a host family. The hosts provide welcoming and culturally sensitive surroundings for people facing serious mental illness. It gives a real alternative to hospital admission.
“The first phase of the project will focus on offering support to black African and Caribbean communities, who are over-represented in acute hospital admissions. The second phase of the project will focus on offering support to our South Asian communities. Some families have already come forward to become a host and receive training and funding to support their guest. However, we are looking for more suitable people to host and we encourage local people to get in touch with EMHIP, so that we can start helping more people.
“It is good to see the community coming together to tackle mental illness, which can sometimes be a taboo subject. We hope this will prevent hospital admissions and improve people’s long-term health.”
The crisis placement service follows the launch, last year, of a mental health and wellbeing hub in the New Testament Assembly Church, Tooting – EMHIP’s first project. The hub houses mental health support, designed by and for the community it serves and offering care to people who aren’t accessing services through traditional NHS routes.
This new project highlights the central role for the voluntary sector in Wandsworth
Jason Edgington, chief executive of Wandsworth Care Alliance (WCA), added: “This new project highlights the central role for the voluntary sector in Wandsworth and demonstrates what can be achieved with locally delivered care services designed with the communities they serve.”
Shannon Katiyo, Director of Public Health for Wandsworth, said: “Our joint health and care plan is one element of work being undertaken by health and social care partners in Wandsworth and across south west London to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing. Some of the work is focusing on integration of services, as well as tackling health inequalities and embedding prevention – supporting people earlier before they develop health issues or get worse. “
According to Mark Creelman, the Executive Director for the ICS in Wandsworth, this work is fundamental to the launch of the ICS on 1 July. He said: “Across Wandsworth our health and care partners with the voluntary sector are coming together with increasing momentum ready to start this new era for health and care in the borough.”