About Information and advice

Taking a joined up approach to information and advice is critical to the success of Integrated Personal Commissioning.

Getting reliable information and advice to people, when and where they need it is challenging. Research consistently suggests that people find the health and care system difficult to understand and complicated to navigate. People struggle to know where to go for information, or find it difficult to get their questions answered in a straightforward way. It is far too common that people have an experience of being “passed from pillar to post” as the system struggles to identify the best way to respond.

Leadership from everyone in health and social care is needed to deliver the changes needed to improve the availability of and access to integrated information and advice services. Key to this is understanding individuals’ needs, in terms of how, what and when they need information and to ensure it is accessible and useful to them.

Information and advice contributes to a range of existing priorities:

  • Earlier intervention: preventing or delaying the need for formal health and care interventions
  • Promoting independence and resilience: helping people to manage their health and plan ahead
  • Supporting people at home: helping people understand what support can be made available at home, as an alternative to residential settings
  • Finding better value solutions: helping people access informal sources of support, and making optimum use of assets in communities.
  • Promoting choice: making sure people know about the range of local service options available to them and the range of local providers and what support they offer.

The Care Act places important new duties on councils to ensure the coherence and availability of information and advice in each local area and encourages the development of integrated strategies with health. As a minimum, the process of developing a local plan should include:

  • engagement with people, carers and family members, to understand what is working and not working for them, their preferences and how their information advice and advocacy needs can best be met;
  • adopting a ‘co-production’ approach to their plan, involving user groups and people themselves, other appropriate statutory, commercial and voluntary sector service providers, and make public the plan once finalised;
  • mapping to understand the range of information, advice and advocacy services, including independent financial advice and different providers available;
  • coordination with other statutory bodies with an interest in care and support, including local Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health and Wellbeing Boards, local Healthwatch and neighbouring local authorities;
  • building into the plan opportunities to record, measure and assess the impact of information and advice services rather than simply service outputs.

Key to IPC success is ensuring that patients have access to high quality, accessible and appropriate information and that they are empowered to be at the centre of decisions relating to their health and care.  Offering choice, without first ensuring that patients and the public feel informed to make that choice, and then feel supported to communicate it and apply it is likely to be ineffective.