Why social care professionals should pledge for NHS Change Day

Social care is essential to effective health services, we need to see more pledges about integration


Time for change! Pledges range from improving patient outcomes to being punctual for meetings.

NHS Change Day started with a single tweet in 2012. A small group of healthcare staff decided they wanted to work together to do something better for patients.

In 2013, more than 189,000 people made their own personal pledge to do something different to improve care. Last week, the 2014 total was already 280,000.

The mission of the day is to inspire and mobilise people everywhere to take action by making a personal public pledge to make a difference – no matter how big or small. Everyone counts and every pledge matters.

And it’s great news for the NHS. Not just in terms of the number of pledges achieved, but also the quality and diversity of the pledges. One professional has pledged they’ll learn more and educate more nurses to improve patient safety and outcomes; elsewhere, someone is pledging to tidy their desk more often.

So far, so good, for the NHS. But we must also include social care. We know that you cannot really have effective healthcare without good social care. NHS Change Day this year is a real opportunity to show how our sector can help to improve the experiences of people who use both health and social care services.

It’s good to see that social care professionals have been pledging. A mental health expert in Sheffield wants to be more punctual at meetings and clinics, and a care home manager in Devon has pledged to redouble efforts to prevent avoidable admissions to acute hospitals for frail older people. But we want to see more pledges about integrating health and social care.

It’s gratifying to read about so many healthcare staff wanting to understand more about dementia, for instance. A Carers UK ambassador in Dorset wants to support GP and carer connections to make sure people have good access to primary care.

Patients, service users and carers are encouraged to pledge as well. One has said they will now be more confident with their GP when asking for what they want; another has pledged to thank staff when a good job’s been done. Another pledge was to give feedback on good and bad health and care services, so that professionals can learn from each other’s experiences.

In fact, Pip Hardy, who runs a social enterprise that creates digital stories with people telling their health and care tales, has pledged to spend three days as a healthcare assistant.

My personal pledge is to learn more about the challenges that hospital discharge teams face, and include those issues in the work the Social Care Institute for Excellence is doing on integrated care.

Our chair, Lord Michael Bichard, has pledged that we will work in partnership with our NHS colleagues and provide practical support and resources to tackle the barriers to effective integration, and ensure our work focuses on the outcomes that people want.

Even though NHS Change Day is on 3 March, you can make your pledge until 31 March. And you can download lots of resources from the pledge site. Whether you work in or use the NHS, social care or related services such as housing, NHS Change Day is really important. Every voice counts and every pledge matters. Make a pledge here.

Iris Steen is head of communications at the Social Care Institute for Excellence