Important decisions about the future of health and social care in Northern Ireland must not be left solely down to leaders and experts, the country’s chief nursing officer has warned.
Professor Charlotte McArdle made the remarks at the launch of a new “co-production” guide detailing how everyday people can be involved in the transformation of Northern Ireland’s care services.
“The views of people who use health and social care services need to be heard as never before”
The Connecting and Realising Value Through People blueprint was created as part of the country’s new vision for the sector and is focused on illness prevention, early intervention and care in the community.
Professor McArdle said the guide would help put people at the heart of decision making, working alongside professionals to remodel the system in line with 21st century health needs.
She added: “The views of people who use health and social care services need to be heard as never before. It’s very clear the challenges facing our health service are growing. Old ways of doing things are not going to work.
“We cannot leave it all to experts and professionals,” she said. “Everyone should have their say in shaping the future development of services.”
Professor McArdle said change was “definitely coming” and that it would transform how health and social care was delivered to “meet the needs of today’s society”.
“But change won’t work unless people are at the heart of the decision making and that’s why today we are launching the health and social care co-production guide,” said the CNO.
“It is important that everyone working in health and social care listens to the experience of those who use our services and together we make the necessary changes to modernise services and provide the best care going forward,” she said.
“I am conscious that achieving true partnership working is a journey rather than a destination”
Professor McArdle added: “However, I am conscious that achieving true partnership working is a journey rather than a destination and we will continue to build on existing mechanisms while seeking new, innovative ways to maximise involvement.”
The guide provides underpinning principles for co-production, definitions of key terms and offers practical guidance on the key steps to achieve effective co-production.
It will be used as a key component of the health and social care shake-up envisaged in Northern Ireland’s “Health and Wellbeing 2026 – Delivering Together” document.
The document sets out ambitions to create a new “person-centred” care model that breaks down traditional barriers between providers in order to meet ever growing demand for services.
There is a similar drive underway in England to create an integrated health and social care system involving NHS organisations and local councils, via a network of 44 sustainability and transformation plans.