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Article citation: Peter Thistlethwaite, (2012) "Editorial", Journal of Integrated Care, Vol. 20 Iss: 1, pp. -
This is a proud moment for Journal of Integrated Care, the start of our 20th Volume. Who would have thought in 1991 when the planning began that such a journal could be established successfully and sustained over such a period of time? In fact, this was the first journal developed by Pavilion Publishing (later Pier Professional) to add to its staple product of the time, training materials for social care services. When Pier’s journals were bought by Emerald last year, more than 20 were in production. It was also the first journal I had edited, and I was invited in when Issue 1.1 was in press. So my personal 20 years are to be attained with the next Issue, 1.2 being the first into which I had any input. There was a range of risks and threats, therefore, but the journal grew. We will look back at those 20 years in our April issue.
The Emerald stamp is now firmly on this journal, as subscribers can see. This is the first issue in the new Quarto format which is common to Emerald’s journals. However, there is one further element in the transition to come: electronic submission and reviewing of articles. At the time of writing (November 2011) I am expecting that Issue 20.2 will be produced via Emerald’s automated process which is based on ScholarOne, an international system which will be well known to experienced authors and reviewers. Readers can find out more about this from the journal web site, where adjustments to content have had to be made. However, the real test (or learning opportunity) for all of us will come when authors submit papers to the web site and not to me personally; and when I automatically receive prompts to consider the paper and to allocate reviewers using the system. This may sound like the loss of the personal touch, but my hope is that all the potential in the system for maintaining a personal touch can be a reality. I am nevertheless certain that the process will help us all to maintain the integrity of the journal’s processes in an efficient and transparent way.
Students of integrated care know very well that there are problems of definition within it: it is a broad church and will certainly remain so. There are several seminal papers which are always quoted in debates about the meaning of integrated care, but it will probably prove impossible to unite around one. Our lead article this time approaches this very topic from the left field, applying the disciplines of the study of “Operations Management”. It is an intriguing analysis, which will find favour among many implementers in the field: it speaks their language. It nevertheless adds something distinctive to the academic debate, in particular teasing out practical consequences of differing ideas. Let me whet your appetite on the old chestnut of coordination versus integration: the author, Paul Lillrank, writes:
The essential difference between integration and coordination is that integration implies a fusion of components into something new, while coordination is the arrangement of roles and tasks into an organized whole. To illustrate, mixing water, ground coffee, and milk produces an integrated portion of a beverage, where the components are not easily separated. Pouring defined amounts of nuts and raisins in a bowl creates a coordinated entity where the components remain separate. Integration happens when they are chewed and digested.
This is an article that will repay study and challenge existing conceptions. But the role of the consumer (i.e. he who chews and digests the product) is another key theme which we wish to pursue as a journal. It leads directly to the debate about personalisation of care and support and whether this can be reconciled with integration. Paul Lillrank has given us a vision of this in practice, and later in this issue Fraser Mitchell puts his focus on the practical reality of “self-directed support”. Mitchell references several papers published in this journal in recent years which have argued for co-production with service users and carers, most tellingly that of the late, lamented Bob Sang in 2009, from which this sentence is taken:
Truly integrated care is personalised care, and it is now clear that such integration extends beyond multi-disciplinary team working to a working partnership with carers and citizens themselves: social co-productions.
The failure to understand this is highlighted by another article in this issue, written by Jessie Roberts and colleagues in Scotland, and based on a study of the potentially deleterious impact on carers of pushing wheelchairs – which could clearly be avoided in a better organised, collaborative system. This topic clearly borders on the arcane, but we are pleased that the existence of Journal of Integrated Care can bring the findings to wider attention. Their messages are also reinforced in another article in this issue focussing on carers, from our partner Research in Practice for Adults and written by Charlotte McEvoy.
Finally, may I record that Journal of Integrated Care has historically been dedicated to the message behind the Emerald strapline “research you can use”. We have consciously and deliberately attempted to weave academic analysis and practical experience together to achieve a journal which is accessible to a wide range of potential readers and at the same time is open to non-academic writers who have experiences of great value to share. For a perfect example of this read the case study of approaches to hearing loss in Hartlepool in this issue. Deaf people may well, as a frequently marginalised group, have suffered from the potentially arcane nature of their world. Tracey Sharp has opened up the consequences of this with her analysis of need, met and unmet, in one town. I hope by publishing this article (which might otherwise have been lost in “grey literature”) that the cause she describes might be taken up elsewhere, and that the simple but strongly evidence-based, inter-agency methodology she applied might become standard.
More papers of this type please…