A HEALTH and social care base in Gwent has been hailed as a "model example" of how such services can work together for the benefit of the people they look after.

The Monnow Vale health and social care hub in Monmouth was one of three projects involving integration of these services that was studied in depth for a report commissioned by public services union UNISON.

The report - Working for a Shared Common Purpose - calls for the integration of health and social care in Wales to be speeded up.

UNISON commissioned the report in the wake of complaints from health workers that people receiving care are being failed by a disjointed system, with simultaneously, little investment in care staff.

Allowing individuals and their families control over the planning of their own care is the chief objective identified in the report, with seamless, integrated care seen as the means of achieving it.

But the report concludes that a lack of trust and poor communication between different agencies often leads to confusion and disruption of care.

Monnow Vale, opened in 2006, was studied for the report along with other health and social care schemes in Bridgend and Anglesey. It provides inpatient services, intermediate care to help avoid hospital admissions and to help people recover their confidence and independence after a period in hospital, and long term support to enable people with disabilities and long term illnesses to remain at home. It also enjoys input from GPs and hosts day services and specialist clinics.

The report describes Monnow Vale as "a model example, where resources are mobilised quickly; unnecessary bureaucracy is eliminated; and staff are empowered to take action". It continues:

"Workers felt listened to, trusted and invested in. Staff retention improved, and so did continuity of care."

The report identifies the following as enabling excellence in care:

• Care should be focused on the needs of the individual;

• Care providers must show strong and clear leadership and involve care staff, empowering them to take decisions in the best interests of those receiving care. Care workers should be provided with ongoing support and training;

• Care workers’ trade union representatives have an invaluable role in the planning of caring;

• Integrated care should not necessarily be seen as a ‘cost saver’ but as a ‘service improver’ which leads to effective individual care;

• Acceptance that achieving integrated working is mandatory not optional.

UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary Margeret Thomas said its members working across care and health services "know we can do better than this in Wales".

They want to be involved in planning care and trusted to make decisions so the needs of the individual are at the centre," she said.

"This report calls for an acceleration in the scale and pace of health and social care integration. We’ve got to have a more effective service which will help service users and employees alike.”

Professor Mark Llewellyn, one of the report authors said: “Quality care is focused on the individual and their needs, not the structure delivering care. Everyone needs to share that common purpose."