A pioneering community health hub that has supported hundreds of local people in Thornton Heath to stay well and manage their health turns one this week (Monday 9 August).
Better known as an ICN+ (Integrated Community Networks plus), the pilot hub was set up to connect health and care teams with residents, improving access to local support services.
Since its launch in 2020, more than 600 Croydon residents have been supported by the ICN+ teams so far, with almost 300 alone seeking help with housing, benefits, social isolation and mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The model, which brings together local GPs, social care, mental health services, physiotherapists, pharmacists and community support groups has since been rolled out in two additional sites in the south east and south west of the borough and is set to expand even further across Croydon in late 2021.
The One Croydon Alliance was formed in spring 2017 of Croydon Council, Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, Croydon GP Collaborative, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and Age UK Croydon to provide more joined-up and safe care to meet residents’ needs.
Matthew Kershaw, Chief Executive at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust and Croydon’s Place-Based Leader for Health said: “We’re incredibly proud of the ICN+ team and are looking forward to expanding these vital community hubs across the borough. Throughout the pandemic, the network has provided ongoing support for the local community, launching virtual ‘talking points’ for residents to tackle social isolation, improve access to mental health support and help people live and stay healthier.
“As we look ahead, we hope to continue these efforts as part of the One Croydon Alliance, expanding the ICN+ programme across the borough and increasing our support for people within the neighbourhoods in which they live.”
Councillor Janet Campbell, cabinet member for families, health and social care, said: “One of the best things about the One Croydon Alliance is how some of the most vulnerable people in our community get quicker support for a range of things thanks to a team of professionals from the council, NHS and voluntary sector working in one place.
“Whether you have care needs after coming out of hospital or you have to see a physiotherapist urgently, the ICN+ team will get you help much faster than through the traditional referral process.
“I want to thank all the dedicated people who have achieved so much in just one year – what started as a pilot in Thornton Heath when the council set up this kind of community-led support has gone from strength to strength and very soon six regional teams will cover the whole borough.”
Deborah McCluskey, CEO (Interim) at Age UK Croydon said: “Bringing together the skills of a range of health and social care, community and voluntary sector organisations means we are able to keep people at the heart of the ICN+ model. Local communities can access the support they need to stay healthy, feel part of their community, gain greater access to information and advice and maintain independence. We’re looking forward to the next phases of development and the ability to support people right across the borough.”
Dr Agnelo Fernandes, GP in Thornton Heath and lead GP for Croydon said: “We have brought together teams from physical health, social care, mental health and the community and voluntary sector to provide improved care for Croydon residents. We are very encouraged by the success of the first ‘integrated team’ in Thornton Heath and early feedback from residents has been very positive.”
The Integrated Community Network+ model had been developed to support local needs and develop the most relevant services for those in the immediate vicinity.