Improving care in Care Homes: what can Primary Care Networks learn from the Vanguards?

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Purpose: We trace the evolution of a new integrated care policy in the English NHS (enhanced health in care homes, EHCH) from pilot model to wider roll out, over a 4-year period, into the circumstances of COVID-19. Design/methodology/approach: Using published evidence and official documentation we compared and contrasted the original EHCH model/framework, subsequent draft specifications and the final proposals, ahead of implementation. Findings: The Primary Care Network EHCH service specification has clearly arisen from the Vanguard programme; however, problems related to GP contracts and COVID-19 means, at least initially, there is likely to be some variability over who will be responsible for delivery. It is unknown whether this service, delivered at pace in the current circumstances, will achieve or affect the outcomes envisaged by the pilots. Research limitations/implications: This is our interpretation of the developing policy for enhanced health in care homes, which requires further follow-up research. We are beginning our final fieldwork phase in Summer 2020, to report on the Vanguard legacy. Practical implications: Evaluations of policy success/failure should consider the context and the differing power relations that are present and may impact subsequent take-up and roll-out across the system. We recommend a longitudinal approach to enable a holistic view of policy implementation. Originality/value: This paper reveals the fragility of health and care policymaking in the current climate. From initial concept, through development and testing, into forced early roll out, our observations reflect the unique impact of a global pandemic shock.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-96
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Integrated Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Care homes
  • Integrated care
  • New care models
  • Policy implementation
  • Primary care networks
  • Vanguards


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