Rapid population ageing requires a transformation of health and social care systems to enable the delivery of integrated and person-centred care that responds to older people’s health and care needs, goals, and preferences.
To support this transformation, the World Health Organisation (WHO) developed the integrated care for older people (ICOPE) approach and a three-phase implementation pilot programme with the aim of supporting the Member States to adapt to the provision of integrated care.
On April 24, WHO launched a report detailing the findings of the first ‘ready’ phase of this pilot programme. This phase aimed to evaluate the readiness and feasibility to implement the ICOPE approach.
The report summarises the findings from the implementation experiences across nominated member states, including enablers, barriers, and strengths for the implementation of the ICOPE approach, and learning on the preparation and adaptation needed to implement ICOPE.
Findings and learning are drawn from the results of surveys with 260 health and care workers from 29 member states and 259 systems and service level actors from 35 member states, including from Government, academia, and civil society. The report also draws on the experiences of research teams piloting ICOPE in four countries: Andorra, China, France, and India.
The report finds positive attitudes from health and care workers towards the principles of integrated care and high levels of commitment to adopt and implement ICOPE. With appropriate workforce capacity-building and creating enabling service delivery environments, care and service delivery can change.
Proactive engagement of older people and their communities is crucial across all steps of the ICOPE care pathway. This was highlighted in feedback from both older participants, and health and care workers. ICOPE, says WHO is feasible to implement in different contexts, as shown by case studies from different countries, which also demonstrated the value of local co-design and adaptation to suit the local context.
According to WHO, these and other findings highlighted in the report can support governments to recognise the value of responding to the additional resource needs of implementing ICOPE as a part of efforts toward universal health coverage.
“With the successful implementation of ICOPE through Government commitment and high levels of support and engagement from older people, their communities and other partners, we can expect a brighter future for older people around the world,” says Dr Anshu Banerjee, Director for Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing.
The UN Decade of Healthy Ageing 2021-30 recognises the challenges faced by countries and includes providing access to long-term care for older people who need it as one of its four action areas. WHO and partners in the UN Decade are striving for a world in which all people can live long and healthy lives, including through access to long-term care services and support, when needed.