Does integration really make a difference? A comparison of old age psychiatry services in England and Northern Ireland.
Reilly S, Challis DJ, Burns AS, Hughes J
International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2003;18( 10):887-93.
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OBJECTIVE: This paper seeks to address whether integrated structures are associated with more integrated forms of service. Northern Ireland has one of the most structurally integrated and comprehensive models of health and personal social services in Europe. Social and health services are jointly administered and this arrangement should, in theory, promote collaborative working and interdisciplinary arrangements. DESIGN: The study employed a cross-sectional survey of consultants in old age psychiatry in England and Northern Ireland. Potential respondents were sourced from the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists membership list and locally collected information. MEASURES: A self-administered postal questionnaire. Along with general service arrangements, the domains measured reflect core policy issues for older people's services. Under particular scrutiny in this study were the degree of integration of health and social service provision, as well as inter-professional team working. RESULTS: The integrated health and social care services in Northern Ireland do appear to provide more integrated patterns of working, primarily in managerial arrangements and in the location of staff. There was no evidence of the impact of integration on practice in areas such as: assessment, referral and medical screening. The factors found to be associated with greater integration of health and social care in the prediction model fell into three categories: provision of specialist services; provision of outreach activities; and shared policies by which the whole team worked. CONCLUSIONS: Health and personal social services in Northern Ireland have a distinct advantage over their counterparts in comparable areas of England. The results indicate that integrated structures in old age psychiatry services are associated more with integrated management systems and less with integrated practice-related activities. Further research is required on the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of integrating services in general. It is important that future intervention studies systematically measure the component parts, nature and extent of integration and their individual and joint contribution to the effectiveness and efficacy of services. Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Aged; Comparative Study; Cross-Sectional Studies; England; Health Policy; Humans; Interprofessional Relations; Northern Ireland; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; organization & administration: Geriatric Psychiatry; organization & administration: Health Services for the Aged; organization & administration: Mental Health Services; organization & administration: Patient Care Team