In support of the LARC research into the early outcomes from integrated children's services, NFER has undertaken a literature review to identify existing models and theories of integration. As well as setting out some of these, the report provides background information about the enablers, challenges and impact of integration.
Thirty-five sources were included in the review. The review findings are presented under thematic headings that reflect the following dimensions:
- the extent of integration: the 'stage' or depth of the collaborative activity in integrated services
- the integration of structures: the supporting organisation and frameworks required at different organisational levels
- the integration of processes: the actions or operations required at different organisational levels
- the reach of integration: the extent to which partnerships in integrated services reach out to include diverse agencies.
Enablers to the effective integration of services include the incorporation of service deliverers' and users' perspectives, time to realise effective partnership and outcomes for users, and better understanding between professionals.
Contextual barriers, organisational and cultural barriers will need to be addressed.
The literature often suggests that users benefit from improved access to services and a speedier response, as well as better information and communication from professionals, who themselves gain a better understanding of the issues and of children's needs. The benefits for services centre primarily on quality and efficiency in service delivery.
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