The Caithness District Partnership, which will identify key issues and priorities governing the care of children and adults in the county, met for the first time earlier this week when it agreed that, as a first priority, it would support a review and re-design of services for adults in Caithness, with a particular focus on older adult care and support.
The meeting took place at the Pulteneytown People’s Project Community Centre, Wick, when Colin Punler, an NHS Board Member from Thurso, was elected chairman. The Partnership will meet in public four times each year. It is the second of nine to be formed in the Highlands and comprises members of NHS Highland, The Highland Council, community representatives and voluntary and independent providers. The other pilot Partnership in operation is in Lochaber.
At the first meeting, Bob Silverwood, NHS Area Manager, explained that integration of health and social care presented a great opportunity to provide the public with better services, starting with a wide ranging review of adult services. He gave the example of people who remain in hospital longer than they need to due to lack of care capacity in the community, emphasising that it was vital that a more cohesive, joined up approach was required.
He said: “The work will focus on looking at the immediate needs of the service as well as for the future. Clearly it must involve service users, staff, communities, service providers and other interested parties. Together we need to explore all possibilities for designing safe and sustainable services to meet the needs of adults into the future.”
Gill McVicar, NHS Director of Operations, North and West Highland, encouraged the Partnership to focus on needs and services rather than buildings. She said: “Most people want to stay in their own homes or in their communities if at all possible. I recognise that to do this there is a need to invest in services in the community. I appreciate there has been concerns about institutions in the past but can give an assurance that there will be a systematic approach to what services are required and where they should be based.
“It is crucial that users, carers, clinical and care staff are involved and there will be focus groups and events to allow that to happen. But it can’t all be done through events and meetings. We need to develop trusting relationships and have good and quick lines of communications.”
Councillor Bill Fernie, Wick, said: “The new District Partnership will allow us to look at Caithness issues here in Caithness bringing together the key people with an interest in adult and children’s services.”
The District Partnership will consider issues covering both Integrated Children’s and Adult Services and is a key element of local engagement. The Partnership's role and remit is to:
- Consider issues raised in relation to local service delivery;
- Identify key local issues and priorities in relation to the delivery of strategy and policy;
- Consider and comment on local performance; and
- Consider the development and implementation of local initiatives.