A pioneering new programme that is transforming care in Sunderland is setting the template nationally, with visitors from across the country coming to the city to find out more.

All Together Better Sunderland was set up to ensure that those who need the most help can be supported with health and social care that enables them to remain independent and out of hospital.  Now the new initiative, which was funded by NHS England, is under a national spotlight, with organisations from across the country visiting Sunderland to learn more about how they can put in place a similar programme in their area.

The new ‘joined up’ care programme, known as a vanguard, brings together health and social care workers, alongside local organisations like Age UK Sunderland and the Sunderland Carers’ Centre, to ensure that people in the city benefit from support that is wrapped around their needs.  The programme, which has just celebrated its first year of operation, is considered to be one of the most successful so-called vanguard projects, which were set up in 2014 to trial new ways of delivering care.  Fifty pilot schemes are now in place across the country, each aiming to address the specific challenges that area faces.

Representatives from Stockport, The Wirral and Wakefield visited Sunderland last week [w/c May 2], as well as local professionals from Durham and North Tyneside, to learn more about how All Together Better works and what the team in the city has learned along the way.

Kerry McQuade, head of vanguard delivery for Sunderland, said that she was delighted to welcome professionals from across England, something that showed how Sunderland is flying the flag for health and social care for its most vulnerable people.

She said: “All Together Better really is a programme with the power to transform lives, and not only is it doing just that for people in the city, it is also making a huge difference to the effectiveness and efficiency of NHS spend, which is fantastic.

“The care system was always set up with the goal of improving lives, but for so many reasons, support has not always been wrapped around people.  In many cases, a one-size-fits-all approach has been taken to care, and people are treated as a set of medical conditions rather than a person in need of holistic care.

“Thanks to this new programme, we are changing all of that, and we are already starting to see the difference it is making to people in Sunderland.  To have people travelling to the city to see what we are doing, looking to learn from us and using our work as a template, really does prove just how effective the team has been in creating All Together Better.”

The visit will see health and social care leads from each of the areas understand what the benefit has been of changing care models in Sunderland, and finding out more about the process of setting up new integrated teams that are better able to coordinate care.