Time is what the Health Workforce mostly need
IFIC wants to join organisations and people around the world to celebrate the World Health Worker Week and acknowledge the efforts that our health and care workforce have been making to embrace the contemporary challenges of our care systems. Our workforce are bearing the brunt of the phenomenal pace of change due to system transformations, technology changes, user expectations, shrinking budgets, changing patterns of disease, etc. As if years of budget constraints and austerity had not been enough in causing burnout and dissatisfaction, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought them to the brink of exhaustion. Importantly, there is still a strong gender bias cutting across health occupations and within health occupations, with women health workers underpaid, under-represented in decision-making and under-represented in research.
For the integrated care movement, the health and care workforce are instrumental in achieving the goal of a world where everybody experiences joined-up, easy to navigate care that addresses the outcomes that matter to people and the communities in which they live. As the title of the influential paper by Bodenheimer and Sinsky reminded us when suggesting to move from the Triple-Aim to the Quadruple Aim, “care of the patient requires care of the provider”. We will not enhance patient experience, improve population health and reduce costs (The Triple Aim) if we don’t improve the work life of our care workers.
To do so, the most precious resource our workforce may need is time. Integrated care is about time, not about space.
It is about deep and rich time between people. Integrated care is a human interaction between people (a patient and a carer) that opens up a relationship based upon quality care time. The recently published WHO document Global Competency Framework for Universal Health Coverage encourages all health workers “to consciously adopt an approach to their health practice that incorporates the perspectives of individuals, families and communities as participants in and beneficiaries of trusted health systems”.
It is also about delivering care at the right time. The integrated care paradigm advocates for care systems to deploy the right workforce, in the right place, at the right time, with the right set of competencies.
Integrated care is about delivering care through time and along the entire care pathway. This continuity and coordination of care is an essential feature of the definition of integrated care.
In this World Health Worker Week, IFIC pleads health and care systems to find and ensure rich time for our workforce: time to acquire the competencies that enable them to adapt to the evolving demands of care practice; time for them to find out what really matters to people and provide the right care accordingly; time to meet and learn with other professionals, providers and patient groups, to build trusted relationships; time to acquire new responsibilities, conduct research and integrate new knowledge into their practice; time to balance their work and family life; and time to heal from the wounds of life and practice, it they need so. Let´s create the supporting environment to grant them this!
 World Health Organization (2021) Closing the leadership gap: gender equity and leadership in the global health and care workforce, Geneva: World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240025905
 Bodenheimer T, Sinsky C (2014) From triple to quadruple aim: care of the patient requires care of the provider. Annals of Family Medicine, Nov-Dec;12(6):573-6
 World Health Organization (2022) Global Competency Framework for Universal Health Coverage. Geneva: World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/publications-detail-redirect/9789240034662