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Health Soc Care Community. 2007 Mar;15(2):155-64.

Networks and governance: the case of intermediate care.

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Centre for Health and Social Care, Institute of Health Sciences and Public Health Research, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.


The present paper describes a novel approach to the study of services conceptualised as networks. It uses data collected as part of a case study evaluation of intermediate care, a 'joined-up government' policy that was explicitly intended to dissolve the boundaries between health and social care services. The evaluation was undertaken in five localities in England. Routine service use data were collated and standardised for the 12-month period from November 2002 to October 2003. A cohort of 258 service users was recruited during a census month (June 2003), and more detailed data on their personal characteristics and experiences prior to and during their intermediate care episode were collected. Information was obtained for 153 of these people, covering their experience during the 6 months following discharge. A graphical method of depicting individuals' movements between services was devised and a number of measures were used to investigate the network-like features of the data. User outcomes were explored by examining the relationship of characteristics of service users to their location at 6 months after discharge. The results of the analyses show that the five sites were developing service configurations that facilitated transitions between health, social care and other services, and that individual needs were taken into account in the decisions made about which people transferred into which services. While the results cannot be said to show that joined-up government works, they are consistent with the argument that joined-up government goes beyond partnership-type concepts, and in practice, involves the creation of what might be termed integrated service networks.

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