What are community services?
NHS community services are best described as a range of nursing and therapy services that are provided outside of hospital, usually at a health centre, GP practice, community venue or at home (Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, 2018). They aim to keep people healthy and provide support so people stay out of hospital.
This includes a number of services such as:
- Long-term condition management such as diabetes
- District nursing
- Speech and language therapy
- Health visiting
- Specialist community-based services such as intermediate care facilities
However, if we take a wider definition of community services it reveals the true extent of the sectors and services delivering care and support to our communities including, but not limited to:
- Public health
- Supported housing
- Integrated neighbourhood teams
- Care homes
- Dental services
- Informal care from family and unpaid carers
How have community services changed and what is the direction of travel?
The ambition to deliver more and better health services in the community is not new. There have been a series of policies that have sought to strengthen and co-ordinate health services outside hospitals.
The NHS 5 Year Forward View (NHS England, 2014) sets out a vision for how NHS services need to change to meet the future needs of the population. This included a greater emphasis on prevention, integration and putting patients and communities in control of their health. It also called for a shift in investment from acute care to primary and community services.
Statistics on community services
- NHS Digital - the NHS Digital website publishes a range of statistics on hospital activity including an Integrated Care System (ICS) outcomes dataset and community services statistics for children, young people and adults.
Guidance and information on emergency and urgent care
- NHS England Publications - the NHS England website includes reports, guidance, policy and strategy documents and case studies on a number of topics including community health services.
- The King's Fund (community services) - the King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. The site includes blogs, reports, articles and signposts for useful events. This page collates their work on community services.
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance - Communities - NICE has produced a number of documents on communities including guidance on intermediate care, managing medicines, obesity, oral health promotion and suicide prevention.