Integrating Health and Social Care
A new computer system is being introduced in Wales to help health and social care professionals work together to provide care closer to people’s homes.
This system is called the Welsh Community Care Information System (WCCIS) and it gives community nurses, mental health teams, social workers and therapists the digital tools they need to work better together.
It allows access to relevant information on the care provided to other professionals, to show where a patient is with their treatment.
When fully implemented across Wales it will overcome the obstacles posed when organisations use different IT systems by securely storing important information covering a range of activities such as community nursing, health and social care visits, mental health, learning disabilities, substance misuse, complex care needs or social care therapy.
Whenever a patient or client receives treatment or care in Wales information is either written down or held on a computer. These records are used to support individual care.
But when care is delivered in the home or community, it is often provided by different people from different organisations and the patient’s records are a vital tool for communication between them.
Until now, workers were using separate electronic and paper systems to record information about the people in their care, making it difficult for the information to be shared to support care.
The Welsh Community Care Information System overcomes this by integrating information in a single national system that makes it possible - on a need to know basis - for information to be shared securely between health and social care services.
It will be used by community health, mental health and social services, social workers and therapists to record the care they provide. Cases can be shared or transferred across regional and organisational boundaries if the individual is referred to new services or you move home.
How does it work?
Frontline staff can access and record information ‘on the go’ using mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones. They can access the best available and most up to date information, so they know who was the last person to see the patient, what happened and what treatment or service plans are in place.
They don’t have to print out as much paperwork or go back to the office or a home location to access key information.
How does the Welsh Community Care Information System help patients and clients?
The Welsh Community Care Information System supports care in the community, helping to reduce unnecessary hospital stays. Carers will have easy access to all the important information they need and the individual won’t have to repeat their details time and again to different carers, leading to better consistency of care.
- Fewer missed appointments and wasted visits
- Decrease in duplication of record keeping
- Effective control of access to sensitive data
- Better management of resources
- Improved support for multi-disciplinary team working
- Reduction in unnecessary hospital admissions
- Quicker discharge process
- Support for integrated and shared assessments between Health and Social Care staff
- Allow easier ways to undertake audits and produce reports
- It will enable professionals across health and social care to work together within their local area, the region and across the whole of Wales
- Make better informed decisions as all relevant information is in one place
- WCCIS will support service change already underway to reshape social services and health care in Wales
How is information kept secure?
- Personal information will only be used and shared in accordance with Data Protection legislation, which provides organisations with a set of rules to follow.
- WCCIS users will receive training on how to use the system securely.
- WCCIS users must adhere to local and national policies relating to data protection, confidentiality, and information security.
- The system is fully audited and monitored.
- The information is retained in line with national retention guidance for public bodies, and confidentially destroyed as soon as the minimum retention periods have been reached.
The Welsh Community Care Information System (WCCIS) Programme was established in 2015 to support the delivery of a digital tool to help health and social care professionals work together to provide care closer to people’s homes.
The 12 year programme is sponsored and funded by Welsh Government and delivered in partnership with the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS), Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru and regional partnership boards acting on behalf of the seven health boards and 22 local authorities in Wales.
NWIS provides technical co-ordination for this all Wales multi-agency system.
Audit Wales Report: Our response
Here is the response on behalf of the WCCIS National Programme to a report published by Audit Wales.
“The WCCIS National Programme would like to thank Audit Wales for its review and welcomes the recommendations in the report which are already being acted on.
“As the review highlights, WCCIS is an ambitious programme using technology to improve joined up health and social care across Wales and ensure people receive seamless care and support that really meets their needs.
“The scale of implementing a shared electronic record across 29 organisations is unique, complex and unprecedented in Wales, the UK and internationally.
“This level of innovation means we are continually adapting, improving and responding to ensure the system provides the support health and social care professionals need to deliver care closer to people’s homes and we know it’s already making a difference.
“More than 12,000 frontline staff are already using WCCIS every day, many moving away from a paper record for the first time. The system has been particularly impactful during the Covid 19 pandemic where it has been used to identify people in need of support and direct staff and resources to the right areas.
“WCCIS is a long term programme and it’s encouraging that 15 local authorities and health boards have already gone live with the system and are seeing the benefits. A further seven organisations are also working with us to join the system as soon as possible.
“Given the ambition in Wales of achieving an integrated system, there has been significant investment and the national programme spending is in line with predicted costs.
“We remain committed to the vision of rolling out the system across Wales and are actively working in partnership with organisations to make this happen.
“We will continue to support and encourage working across the system to ensure that Wales becomes the first country in the UK to have a single integrated community health and social care record for its citizens.”