Within the public sector, health services and social services are both very large organisations. There exists a lot of overlap between the users of both services. That overlap is 'honoured' with the Health and Social Care Act, and the new cohorts of health and social care study students. But the names still suggest a divide between the two. What is the difference between healthcare and social care?
Healthcare needs to be provided by trained healthcare professionals and involves administering treatments and therapies. Conversely, social care involves the daily personal living activities such as getting dressed, washing, preparing food and general well being.
This presents a dichotomy for me - 'social' therapies such as counselling, relaxation, getting a job and improving my social life has had a greater impact on my physical medical conditions than any drug or medical treatment that my healthcare team have prescribed me!
My physical medical conditions can not be considered in isolation from ME - my social situation and the impact it has on that. So is the divide artificial? In many ways yes. There will be very few people under he care of social services who are not regular users of the healthcare service, and the healthcare service would probably be doing a better job at treating those propels if their social circumstances were taken into account. This means more than just ticking boxes on admission about employment status and housing type - it means assessing the impact of the illness of their life. For a pianist, loss of finger dexterity is a disaster whereas the prospect of a mastectomy for a model could be career ending.
I don't think the answer is just integration - I think the answer lies in getting healthcare workers and social care workers to fully understand the impact social situation has on health and visa versa. You can integrate the two services on a practical and organisational level, but if the staff do not understand well being and it's context then there is little hope.