No one appreciates having to repeat their medical history or care needs, especially when they find the information wasn’t accurately recorded the first time! As social workers, clinicians and care workers, we cannot allow these lapses to happen when individuals share deeply personal details with us. It’s not just bad record keeping – it's disrespectful and potentially harmful.
Such omissions heap anxieties upon anxieties - for service users, providers and carers, who might rightly wonder if anyone has a proper handle on a person’s needs and concerns.
A grip on the detail is essential, particularly when health and care decisions must be made quickly to mitigate or prevent a crisis. So, what’s the solution?
We need something our health and social care services currently lack - a joined-up, coherent health and social care record system.
And that requires the introduction of care record standards to reduce variation in quality and content, whilst simultaneously enabling that content to be shared across different IT systems and care settings without losing their meaning and usefulness.
Recently, I met with Lorraine Foley, CEO of the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB), an independent membership organisation representing some 750,000 health and social care professionals including ADASS, ADCS and the independent care sector - as well as patient groups such as National Voices.
The PRSB is helping to improve patient care by creating standards for digital health and care records and promoting their use with health and social care professionals to support greater service integration.
“Currently, there’s a lot of variation in the content and quality of care records being shared between health services and care professionals,” Lorraine explained to me, “which can lead to inconsistency and gaps in information. Standardised records will give us timely access to crucial clinical information about the people we’re trying to help.
“That way we can assess their needs better and arrange the support they require to manage long term conditions, mobility issues or recovery from mental ill health while living as independently as possible.”
To this end, the PRSB has published a series of record standards which, once fully implemented, I am sure will enhance health and social care service delivery across the board.
Recent standards include:
- the electronic discharge summary, which sets out the information that needs to be sent digitally following a hospital discharge;
- the mental health discharge summary standard, which sets out the information that needs to be sent from mental health services to primary care to ensure continuity of care;
- and a crisis care standard, which enables health and care professionals to access relevant information following treatment and update a person’s changing care requirements such as end of life care plans and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders.
NHS Digital has also published the flow of information between hospitals and local authorities.
A number of national social care messages have also been produced to make it easier to share information between different IT systems.
They’re now working on a new standard in care planning, to ensure all relevant information on a person’s long-term care plans can be shared with multi-disciplinary teams across different care settings.
The PRSB is also working with NHS England and NHS Digital to develop standards for self-care to support personalisation. It’s important that our social work and broad social care expertise - in the context of citizen involvement – is reflected in this as well.
They’re looking for our involvement in this project on an ongoing basis. They will be holding a series of workshops and surveys over the coming months, to find out what information would be most useful to care providers. To find out more about how you can help with this and other projects, visit their website, contact them by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call them on 020 7922 7976.
The work they are doing is so important and I wholeheartedly endorse it. More than that, I would like to see our profession championing the adoption of these standards across the whole range of health and social care services. I encourage you all to get involved in planning how to embed these standards locally and regionally.
To care is to share – let’s put it on record!