For the past year, First Step has been the lead organisation for the Department of Health’s initiative, the Integrated Care Pilot (ICP).
This involved eight organisations from the South Metro area working together to explore ways to improve services for people with co-occurring conditions, using a model of care called the Comprehensive Continuous Integrated System of Care (CCISC). It’s a long and convoluted name and you might be forgiven for starting to lose interest in this article at this point, so let’s simplify.
The CCISC is about three essential elements of care: Welcome, Empathy and Hope.
These three elements remind us that the core of what we do is about the wellbeing of people. Not just any people. Really vulnerable people. In a world driven by budgets, reporting and liability, the CCISC not only reminds us that the client experience is, and should be, the most important metric to design and appraise services, but it also gives us a framework to do it.
Each organisation committed resources to the ICP at executive, management and clinical levels. We met together every month to learn about the model, to exchange ideas and progress reports and to discuss our priorities going forward.
It was certainly not all roses and rainbows, but it was a hugely inspiring process.
We learnt a LOT. We consulted with clients from each service to better understand the impact our services had on them. We gained clarity around the way our own services deliver care. We learnt to question why we do certain things and, where the answer was unsatisfactory, to explore ways of doing it better. We learnt that we already deliver much in the way of integrated care but that the ‘system’ we work within is not designed to recognise that. We learnt that aligning and articulating our values with our service delivery is paramount for best practice care and also for staff wellbeing. And so much more.
The CCISC provided a framework, principles, plans, tools and evaluations to inspire and ensure progress.
For 22 years, First Step has worked on the assumption that any element of mental health, substance use, legal issues, physical health issues, housing or homelessness issues can and probably will impact each of the other elements of a person's life. We are excited by the opportunity to look at ways we can do this better, and we are inspired by the other organisations that are also adopting this philosophy of care for the benefit of the people we serve.
The pilot has ended, and the CCISC and the philosophy behind it now have a small but inspired toehold in each of the organisations involved in the Pilot. The final report, an independent evaluation by LDC Group, will go to the Department of Health in February.
We look forward to sharing our ongoing progress with you in 2023.