Care services minister Norman Lamb vows to remove barriers to joined up services to improve the services for people with long-term conditions and value for money and therefore integrate health and social care for everyone by 2018.

All disabled and older people should enjoy integrated care by 2018 under plans to overcome the health and social care divide, announced today by the minister.  Lamb said he wanted to bring to an end service users’ experience of multiple assessments, poor information sharing and disconnected services, while significantly cutting delayed discharges from and emergency re-admissions to hospital.

While the government will not instruct on how services should integrate, however Lamb has vowed to remove legal and practical barriers to integration identified by a set of “pioneer” areas, who will be selected later this year to test how co-ordinated care can be achieved quickly and efficiently.

Lamb said the government’s goals were to improve service users’ experience of care and getting much better value for money from health and social care. “Too often we waste resources on duplicated effort without joining up care in the patient’s interest,” he told Community Care. “Too often organisations focus on their financial position, not the needs of the patient.”

He said the pioneers would be encouraged to “push the boundaries of what’s possible” in integrating care, adding: “We want to work with the pioneers to see what the barriers are and remove them.”

The government’s programme has been backed by health and social care leaders through a “shared commitment” to deliver integration, these leaders include the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Local Government Association, Monitor and NHS England, as well as the Department of Health. They will jointly fund an “integrated care and support exchange team”, who will support and advice the pioneers and other areas on overcoming barriers to integration.

The government will also develop new indicators of progress on co-ordinating care and support, based on service user’s experiences, by the end of 2013, to see how integration is progressing. This is complemented by a “narrative” published today by health and social care charities’ umbrella group National Voices, setting out what good integrated care looks like for service users.

Lamb stressed that there would be no “central blueprint” for integrated care, adding: “What we are saying is that providing joined-up care for patient is vital to delivering good are but it is for local areas to design how they want to achieve that.”

Home Care Direct warmly welcome this news as we truly believe the integration of health and social care services can only benefit the clients we work with. We see personal budgets as a unique opportunity to encourage integration and partnership between services, helping people live independently in their own home – with complete control over how they receive their support and who provides it. We believe that in order to provide high quality, person centred support, together is truly better!  To this end we encourage partnership working throughout our services and have even set up a charity to encourage such integration Together is Better.