Hot Topics: Neighbourhood Care Teams

A Word version of this briefing aimed at health care professionals is available for LKS staff to share in their own organisations.  Please feel free to reproduce it (with acknowledgement) for your own purposes.

Impact on library policy/practice: 

  • LKS may need to consider how to provide clinical librarian services to what in effect are ‘virtual wards’
  • Integrated care teams may contain members from social care, housing, and the voluntary sector that have not traditionally been served by NHS LKS, and consideration may need to be given the potential needs of these users so we can provide as seamless a service as possible to all members of the team. At a national or regional level, it would be useful to negotiate funding for NHS LKS to provide services to these groups so that this doesn’t have to be negotiated on an individual LKS basis
  • LKS may need to look at information resources to support social care staff in particular
  • There could be a role for LKS in providing information to service users covered by the care team, as one of the objectives is to support them to manage their own health
  • As with Accountable Care Organisations, as organisational boundaries blur, LKS may be required to adapt their service delivery models accordingly, particularly as care moves increasingly into the community

What are neighbourhood care teams?

Neighbourhood care teams are a specific example of integrated care.

These are usually local teams comprising health and social care professionals, sometimes supported by housing professionals or the voluntary sector, that work with people with long-term or multiple conditions or the frail elderly. The service user usually has access to a case worker or navigator for a single point of access, medical records are usually shared between the members of the team, and members of the team may be drawn from different organisations. Their aim is to support people to remain in their own homes and live as independently as possible, and to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

They may also be known as integrated local care teams, locality care teams, virtual wards, neighbourhood teams or similar. Neighbourhood care teams or similar models are a feature of many local Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs).

What examples are there of neighbourhood care teams in practice?

The document from NHS England on new care models (1) provides examples of a couple of schemes similar to neighbourhood care teams, namely Fylde Coast Local Health Economy and Stockport Together.

Other examples include:

What’s the evidence for neighbourhood care teams?

A Nuffield Trust report (2) looking at different community interventions including integrated health and social care teams found no evidence of a reduction in hospital admissions, but this may be due to ‘case finding’ identifying previous unmet needs, and any reduction in admissions may only happen in the long-term.

However, there is evidence (3) that co-ordination of care through integrated teams improves patient experience and quality of life, and some evidence that chronic care management models are associated with lower costs.

Further reading

  1. NHS England (2016). New care models: Vanguards – developing a blueprint for the future of NHS and care services
  2. Nuffield Trust (2011). An evaluation of the impact of community-based interventions on hospital use
  3. King’s Fund (2015). Care co-ordination through integrated health and social care teams

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