Today, care services are often delivered independently. This can lead to inefficiencies, duplication of resources, and potentially to reduced levels of quality of care. Older people are particularly affected by this situation, since they often need both types of services, such as support with daily living activities and chronic disease management. Advanced ICTs are a major opportunity to realise integration across social care and healthcare and involving third-sector organisations, superseding today’s chain of disjoint responses to discrete threats to health.
As part of the EU-funded INDEPENDENT project, 7 European regions addressed the challenge of integrating care services provided to older people with and without chronic conditions. The project was co-ordinated by empirica and came to end in February 2014 with the succssful conclusion on a one year evaluated trial of the new, integrated services. The outcomes of the project are now publicly available and provide conceptual inputs, statistical data and lessons to be learned to people and organisations who want to engage in care integration.
A core characteristic of integrated, as found by partners in INDEPENDENT, is the diversity of concepts and approaches that one finds in the different European regions. Successful care integration depends on being mindful of this fact and being able to flexibly respond to the circumstances encountered. With this in mind, viable and sustainable integrated services can be constructed. INDEPENDENT was able to show, by means of cost-benefit analysis and business case modelling, that integration can indeed lead to better care provided in an efficient manner.