Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Chief Officer's Blog

Chief Officer Caroline Sinclair

Caroline Sinclair is Chief Officer for Orkney Health and Care, the Integration Joint Board for the islands. Follow Caroline's blog for regular updates on the work of Orkney Health and Care.

13 May 2016

It’s been a very busy few months. Since my last blog we have consulted on, and approved a Strategic Commissioning Plan for the Integrated Joint Board (IJB) and “gone live” as a fully functioning new public body. We had a really good joint meeting of the Board of NHS Orkney and the Council’s Elected Members, along with the IJB members and while there continues to be some understandable concerns about this new arrangement there was also a really positive feel in the room and a great commitment to continue partnership working.

I have been out and about a bit, although not as much as I would like. Thanks to Orkney Arthritis Care for their kind invitation to attend one of their meetings, it was very enjoyable. I also went to a public meeting in Dounby, where it was great to see people’s interest in care services.

I was also delighted to arrange the design team for the new Stromness Care Home, to replace St Peter’s House, to visit the new site. This is the start of the plans beginning to come to life.

You might also like to know over the summer period the care Inspectorate and Health Improvement Scotland will be looking at how well we provide our services for older people. This is a great opportunity to showcase some of the really good work we do, and to learn develop new ideas about how we can keep improving.

You can read our completed Strategic Commissioning Plan from the link in the 'Related Links' section of this page.

21 January 2016

It’s a week since my debut …

Until last Thursday I’d managed to get by without using Facebook, unlike many of my friends and colleagues. So you can imagine my feelings as I prepared not just to take a tentative first step into the world of social media, but for a full blown Facebook Chat to which folk across Orkney were invited to join in.

With Facebook-savvy colleagues from the Council and NHS Orkney on hand to keep me right, we went live at 6pm for the first online chat of its kind to be hosted on the OIC Updates Facebook page.

This was a chance for people to discuss community health and social care services, their experiences and what they’d like to see in future. We’re right in the middle of a consultation on the Strategic Commissioning Plan for the Integration Joint Board (which will retain the name Orkney Health and Care). The plan is currently in draft form and so feedback from the public and from staff is important before a final version is produced.

Right from the start folk joined in. Some asked questions. Others shared their opinions with us. We were asked what differences would there be as a result of setting up the Integration Joint Board. And there were questions about specific services.

The hour long discussion flew by. I tried to provide quick and concise answers, as there was a steady flow of responses from the folk who joined the discussion. I was really pleased with the way it went. It showed clearly just how much people care about the services we provide and the importance they attach to them.

The feedback since has been encouraging as well. Many people have said to me that they found the discussion interesting as it unfolded on Facebook – and that they’d seriously think about joining in the next time we chat online. You can still catch up on what was said. Go to the OIC Updates Facebook Page, and look for “Events” under the “More” tab just under the banner picture at the top of the page. Then look for “Live chat on future plans for community health and social care services”.

As part of the consultation we’re holding drop-in events as well. The first was in Dounby this week, with more to follow in Stromness, St Margaret’s Hope and Kirkwall. You can find full details here. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to visit the page and fill in our online survey.

23 December 2015

Much has happened since I was in touch last. In particular I’ve been trying to get out and about to meet the teams who deliver health and care services in Orkney, with more catch ups to come in the New Year. I’m looking forward to talking with the teams I haven’t met so far.

Getting together with staff is important as we move towards the time in 2016 when the new Integration Joint Board starts the task of planning and overseeing the community health and social care services across the county.

Staff from the Council and NHS Orkney have, of course, been working together for more than five years under the banner of Orkney Health and Care. You’ll be aware that we are keeping the same name for the Integration Joint Board. The job for all of us is to build on all the good work already achieved in delivering integrated services and ensuring that these best meet the needs of the people we support and care for.

I’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm and feedback as I’ve discussed thoughts and ideas for the future with the teams I’ve met. There’s a willingness to try new approaches and, where needed, work differently, if it means we can provide better “joined-up” services. And, of course, there’s frustration when this doesn’t happen as fast as folk would like. It’s good to hear about all of this at first hand – and to talk about what might be needed to move things on.

The festive season is a time to look forward to for many of us, but it’s also a time to remember and keep a friendly eye out for those who may be alone at Christmas, or find this time of the year difficult.

A year ago Orkney Health and Care and ChooseLife Scotland joined together in producing two booklets to let people who have been bereaved or affected by suicide - or those who may be having thoughts of taking their own life - know that they don’t need to cope alone. The booklets are available from the ChooseLife page in the 'Related Links' section of this page .

14 October 2015

Welcome to the first blog from me as the Chief Officer of Orkney’s Integration Joint Board.

Integration isn’t new to Orkney. We’ve been working together through Orkney Health and Care since 2010 – and we’re keeping the same name for the Integration Joint Board. This gives us a good head start. We already have health and social care service that are jointly managed, and staff from NHS Orkney and Orkney Islands Council regularly working side by side, supporting and caring for people who use our services.

Setting up an Integration Joint Board gives us a great opportunity to move this even further forward. The Board will have the job of overseeing health and social care services and ensuring that these are “joined-up” in ways that meet the needs of our local community.

We do however have significant challenges ahead, with rising demand for services, at a time of national financial pressures. Integration is the right way to work in the future, and it will help us to meet these challenges, but it’s not a magic wand and we will have to think about what we do and how we do it.

There is more we can do though, and the new Integration Joint Board will be looking to involve a wide range of people in planning services including communities, people who use our services, carers and front line staff from all sectors.

The people I have spoken to so far have a real energy and enthusiasm for closer working, for involving communities and for what we can achieve together.

Having the right tools to do the job is a big help in working effectively. There have been some major developments recently, with work underway on the new road to what will be the new hospital, and agreement to build a new residential care home for older people in Kirkwall, as well as one in Stromness. Buildings are by no means the be all and end all for our services but having the right spaces to work in, and for older people to live in, certainly helps.

Related Links