June 2023 was the date for the comeback of the face-to-face International Summer Schools on Integrated Care (ISSIC23 and ISSIC23_E). In the past years, considering the challenges of meeting face-to-face and with the intention of providing access to Integrated Care training worldwide, the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC) has focused on strengthening its virtual learning opportunities. As part of these, this Autumn we will be running our 6th cohort of the Online Certificate in Integrated Care with more than 70 international participants and the 3rd cohort of the university level 9 Certificate in Principles of Integrated Care in collaboration with Munster University in Ireland. Our virtual programmes have been extremely successful and appreciated and they provide an excellent opportunity to familiarise yourself with the principles of Integrated Care.
Still, we were looking forward to resuming our face-to-face programmes, which complement virtual learning with the opportunity to discuss the real-life challenges of translating theory into practice with peers and experts in the field. Therefore, as soon as the context allowed, we decided to host our prestigious one-week Summer School from Monday 26th to Friday 30th of June, followed by the 3-day International Summer School on Integrated Care Evaluation (ISSIC23-E), from the 3rd to the 5th of July. This was an introductory course on how to design and conduct an evaluation of integrated care policies and programmes.
Both Schools gathered global leaders and managers in Integrated Care for an enriching experience spanning a week and a half of face-to-face interactions and knowledge exchange.
Taking both schools together, we had 16 participants and 10 lecturers from 12 different health systems who came together to explore the concept of Integrated Care. The diversity of backgrounds enriched discussions, offering unique insights into healthcare systems worldwide. The programme combined workshops around specific themes with group work in which they had to design an implementation and evaluation plan for a certain case study. This is where the real magic happened and amidst the relaxed atmosphere, profound conversations unfolded. Participants engaged in open dialogue, unearthing the complexities and successes of Integrated Care in their respective regions. The atmosphere was not just academically charged; it was infused with trust, fostering an environment where even the most complex questions found space to be asked and discussed.
One of the most impactful aspects of the programme was the permanent presence of a patient and public advocate who joined the course as a faculty member. In the midst of policy discussions and academic debates, the focus kept shifting back to the true essence of health and care – the people. Their stories became the focal point, reminding everyone that the ultimate goal of Integrated Care is to continuous and coordinated care around people’s and communities’ needs and choices to lead healthy, meaningful, creative and fulfilling lives.
The study visit to One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System was pivotal during the Summer School. Located in the South-West of England, the One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System (ICS) brings together NHS, social care, public health and other public, voluntary and community sector organisations. For the Summer School that was when theory met reality, and participants witnessed the intricate play between theory and the practical challenges faced on the ground. Success stories inspired, but the challenges exposed the complexities of implementing Integrated Care. It was an enriching experience, grounding the discussions in the real struggles faced by health and care organisations and practitioners in many countries.
ISSIC23 and ISSIC23_E concluded as a platform that fostered collaboration, learning, and international networking. During the time we are taking to reflect on the experience and feedback from ISSIC23 to design the Summer School 2024, we have already run an Advance Learning Programme in Ireland and we are about to have the Gosford School for Integrated Care in Australia on the 10th and 11th of November, just in the days before the 3rd Asia Pacific Conference on Integrated Care (APIC3). These in-person and other online courses exemplify IFIC’s commitment to advancing Integrated Care practices globally and everybody involved in health and care is encouraged to explore the transformative potential of Integrated Care through IFIC’s educational opportunities.
So, this is not only an invitation to embark on our Integrated Care courses, where the real magic of collaborative learning happens; it’s an opportunity to be part of a movement that is shaping the future of health and care, one collaborative effort at a time. Join us in shaping a healthier tomorrow, together.