Lessons from Covid-19 for the role of the voluntary sector in the NHS

Tuesday, 07 September 2021

Lessons from Covid-19

Photo by Mark Epstein

The Healthy Ageing and Care network funded a pilot project in Oxfordshire (January to July 2021) which explored the lessons that can be learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic, for the role of the voluntary sector in ‘Integrated Care Systems’.

Integrated Care Systems (ICS) are a long-term aim of the NHS and bring together different stakeholders, including the voluntary sector, local authorities and the NHS to provide more effective health and social care. ICSs will become statutory bodies in England in April 2022, and have already been introduced in some areas, but they are relatively recent in many places, and research is needed to examine how stakeholders can work together more effectively for better health outcomes.

During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, one of the key features of the societal response to the crisis was the rise in mutual aid organisations and activity through the ‘Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise’ (VCSE) sector, particularly supporting vulnerable and older populations. This pilot study explored how the recent experiences of the VCSE sector responding to Covid-19 can be built upon, to strengthen integrated partnership working, in order to improve joined-up health and social care provision, particularly for an ageing population. Taking a mixed-methods approach, and guided by an advisory board, the research highlighted a number of opportunities and barriers to joint working. These are outlined in the infographic and the full report.

For further information about the project please contact Ben Spencer at bspencer@brookes.ac.uk.