Since the Early Intervention (EI) model was fully rolled out two years ago it has helped more than 20,000 people to avoid unnecessary hospital admission, reduced the average length of excess stays in acute hospitals from twelve days to four and reduced the average number of hours of ongoing care needed at home by six and a half hours a week.

Chris Holt, Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for the programme and Chief Operating Officer for Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust outlines the next steps in this invaluable approach to integrated Home First care.

EI and its determination to create a Home First care approach to ensure that people remain as independent as possible in their own home, for as long as possible, has made great strides. Not least that our achievements, measured against  baseline performance before the programme started, took place in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic.

It has put Birmingham on the health and social care map. So much so that the programme is showcased by NHS England as a best practice model in delivering Home First integrated health and social care across Birmingham; the programme has also been shortlisted for four national awards for the same reason.

EI has been a collaboration like no other in the history of Birmingham’s health and care system.  As a city, we have successfully taken disparate teams and disparate services to deliver a coherent service model to the benefit of the 1.3m+ citizens we serve.

We have learned many lessons. We know that it is essential that each partner organisation needed to commit to deliver the shared vision and maintain that conviction throughout.  Our colleagues embraced the opportunity to work outside the traditional organisational boundaries to the benefit of Birmingham’s citizens but need this regular endorsement that it is okay to do that. We have also learned that it is also important to make decisions based on data and evidence, not anecdotal information, involve front line staff in redesign and decision making and focus on operational management frameworks and the sustainability of standard operating procedures.

We have also learned that equipped with the right tools, our front-line colleagues are highly effective in continuing to improve the way we work to meet our goals.  We provided a structured approach to help them do this with the support of our dedicated improvement team. The delivery of the Early Intervention is a success and the model is now firmly embedded across our services and considered business as usual.

All core components continue to evolve to meet the ongoing needs of the changing landscape of integrated care and the introduction of the Integrated Care System (ICS).  Many of these areas are already familiar to many colleagues: virtual wards, urgent community response (UCR) services, continued expansion of OPAL and OPAL+ and development of our P2 rehabilitation beds model are all well underway.  The ongoing integration of mental health and end of life are also instrumental in our continued growth.

Our EI efforts have always been about intervening early to enhance the independence of citizens whilst adopting a Home First ethos in all that we do.  This will not change.  Early Intervention has delivered as a programme and this approach is here to stay.   I look forward to working with you all in the next chapter of Birmingham’s Home First journey.