Integration of health and social care: a case of learning and knowledge management
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This paper considers integration of health and social care as an exercise in learning and knowledge management (KM). Integration assembles diverse actors and organisations in a collective effort to design and deliver new service models underpinned by multidisciplinary working and generic practice. Learning and KM are integral to this process. A critical review of the literature is undertaken to identify theoretical insights and models in this field, albeit grounded mainly in a private sector context. The findings from a research study involving two integrated services are then used to explore the role of, and approach to, learning and KM. This case study research was qualitative in nature and involved an interrogation of relevant documentary material, together with 25 in-depth interviews with a cross-section of strategic managers and professionals undertaken between March and May 2011. The evidence emerging indicated no planned strategies for learning and KM, but rather, interventions and mechanisms at different levels to support integration processes. These included formal activities, particularly around training and appraisal, but also informal ones within communities of practice and networking. Although structural enablers such as a co-location of facilities and joint appointments were important, the value of trust and inter-personal relationships was highlighted especially for tacit knowledge exchange. The infrastructure for learning and KM was constructed around a collaborative culture characterised by a coherent strategic framework; clarity of purpose based on new models of service; a collaborative leadership approach that was facilitative and distributed; and, a focus on team working to exploit the potential of multidisciplinary practice, generic working and integrated management. The discussion and conclusion use Nonaka’s knowledge conversation model to reflect on the research findings, to comment on the absence of an explicit approach to learning and KM, and to develop a template to assist policy-makers with the design of planned strategies.
Health and Social Care in the Community
Williams, P.M. (2012) 'Integration in Health and Social Care: A Case of Learning and Knowledge Management', Health and Social Care in the Community, 20:5, pp.550-560
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