Health and social care is the term used to describe the range of services available to promote health and wellbeing and provide care for those with a health-related condition or disability. It combines the National Health Service (NHS) and local authority social services departments. It includes publicly funded adult social care for older people, adults with long-term health conditions and disabled children and young adults. Local councils usually have a primary responsibility for adult social care, with duties to provide information and advice, assess care needs, arrange short-term support or reablement and safeguard vulnerable adults. Local councils are responsible for the funding of social care, which is generally based on an individual’s financial situation and may include means testing.
Integrated care is becoming a priority for governments as they seek to better align and streamline health and social care delivery. However, integrating healthcare and social care at the operational level is a complex challenge. While many health systems are deploying new strategies, such as screening patients for social risks and referring them to external services, they have not yet established operationally integrated pathways and infrastructure.
In this special issue, we bring together a selection of studies that explore a wide range of approaches for integrating health and social care, from policy practice to the development of innovative solutions. We hope that the articles in this collection will stimulate discussion and inspire a greater understanding of the importance of integrated care for improving people’s health and wellbeing. health and social care