Everything you need to know about Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), including DSCR funding for digital care management systems

Joining up local services to improve health outcomes

What is integrated care?

Integrated care is all about connecting health and care services so that people can get the support they need in the right place at the right time.

Its main aim is to address fragmentation in patient services and ensure that care is delivered in a better coordinated and continuous way. Integration will provide an opportunity for person-centred care to be the anchor upon which services are designed, developed, and delivered.  

Good integrated care helps to reduce the following:  

  • Confusion 
  • Repetition 
  • Delay 
  • Duplication and gaps in service delivery 
  • People getting lost in the system 

Delivering integrated care is essential to improving outcomes for people who use health and social care services. 


What are Integrated Care Systems?

To improve health and social care for all, the government has passed the Health and Care Act 2022, introducing new legislative measures to make it easier for health and care organisations to deliver joined-up care for people relying on multiple services. 

The proposal was to implement integrated care systems (ICSs) and aim to deliver better, more integrated care for people, with a better and clearer transfer of information from one professional to another. 

The King's Fund, an independent charity working to improve health and care in England, has provided a simple definition of what an Integrated Care System is: 'Integrated care systems (ICSs) are partnerships that bring together NHS organisations, local authorities and others to take collective responsibility for planning services, improving health and reducing inequalities across geographical areas'.  

The ICSs are the centrepiece of the reforms introduced through the 2022 Health and Care Act. They are part of a significant change in how the English health and care system is organised. For several decades, the focus was on organisational autonomy, competition and the separation of commissioners and providers. However, now, ICSs rely on collaboration and concentrate on the local populations and places as the driving forces for improvement. 

One of the many benefits of integrated care systems is that they strive towards a more joined up approach, which creates a more seamless healthcare journey for patients, as clinicians will already have access to their healthcare records and information about their condition - this means patients will only have to explain their conditions and answer questions once instead of repeating themselves to each healthcare professional they come across. This approach should improve the patient's journey through the care system, making it faster, more seamless and less stressful.  


To read more about the benefits of integrated care systems, click here.  

It's important to note that each Integrated Care System (ICS) is different and must prepare a strategy (an "integrated care strategy") setting out how the assessed needs in relation to its area are to be met by the exercise of functions of the integrated care boards (ICB), partner local authorities and NHS England. 

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has refreshed the guidance on the preparation of integrated care strategies, 

replacing the July 2022 guidance. 

Click here to view the 'Guidance on the preparation of integrated care strategies' and the summary of the changes made. 

What does Integrated Care System mean?

PCS Care Notes_1

Health and care professionals work together to provide joined up care services throughout an individual's life. These services allow people to receive anything from self-care to intensive care and everything in between.

PCS Healthcare proffessional

Accessible, high-quality care tailored to local people's needs, that focuses on individuals, understands and listens to their needs, and recognises that families and communities can play an essential role in supporting health and wellbeing. 

PCS Observations
Setting and improving standards and common clinical policies, along with strengthened clinical and professional leadership, organising and prioritising resources and processes that lead to better outcomes and more effective, efficient, and cost-effective operations.  

What does integrating health and care services mean for social care?

Integrating health and care services has many benefits for care workers. This way of working presents an opportunity to highlight the importance of social care and its workforce's skills and values-based approach. It's hoped that integration between health and care can positively impact workplace culture and improve the overall experience for staff working in health and social care, which, of course, will, in turn, support retention. 

Ultimately, integrating health and care services will make it easier for people working in social care to support people in living their lives with autonomy and choice. 

However, the ultimate goal of integrating health and care services is to positively impact the people who use care and support services. 

Why social care provider involvement is important 

While the establishment of many integrated care systems is still in its early stages, many are starting to establish ways of working across systems, including planning for care and support in their areas through their first 5-year joint forward plans (JFPs). Therefore, social care providers must engage with their local ICS to ensure that social care is better understood and relationships are established to create the conditions for successful partnership working. 

Going digital – funding for CQC-registered adult social care providers

In order to transform social care, the NHS Transformation Directorate is providing funding to Integrated Care Systems.  


The funding aims to: 

  • Support CQC-registered adult social care providers in adopting technology to improve the quality and safety of care and help make people's lives happier and more fulfilled. 
  • Improve outcomes in population health and health care.
  • Ensure all experience, access, and outcomes are fair and not affected by health inequalities. 
  • Enhance productivity and value for money.
  • Help the NHS to support broader social and economic development. 

As mentioned before, whilst these aims are universal across all 42 ICSs, how each delivers them will differ based on their local circumstances. 

Integrated Care Systems will assist adult social care providers in implementing a Digital Social Care Record (digital care management system) that will allow them to access accurate information instantly, enabling them to provide better-integrated care to their clients. 

What is a digital care management system?

A digital care management system (digital social care record) allows care teams to spend less time on paperwork and more time caring for those they support, providing safer and more transparent care. 

Currently, the government is targeting 80% of all registered care providers to adopt a Digital Social Care Record (DSCR), such as Person Centred Software's Digital Care Management System, by 2024.  

Registered care providers can now receive grant funding for a DSCR from their local Integrated Care System (ICS).  

For example, before using a digital care management system, compared to paper-based records, care home managers had to go into the organisation and sift through all the paperwork and hundreds of care notes to get an overview of what had been happening inside the home. 

With a digital care management system, care home managers can now click into the system and get a quick overview of what's been happening in the care home. They can access detailed information wherever they are and, whenever needed, read and analyse care records quickly, access care intelligence, and monitor the effectiveness of care with ease, staying on the front foot and helping them to be in control.  

Using a digital care management system gives carers, nurses, managers and owners the tools to provide residents with the best quality of care and make a real difference in their lives. 


Person Centred Software, a market leader in care home software and provider of the UK's most widely used Digital Care Management System (digital social care record), has helped many care providers apply for funding and is working in partnership with the ICSs to host several virtual and in-person events across England.  

If you want to learn more about Person Centred Software's digital social care record, you can book a demo to see it in action. 

Are you a care provider wanting to know more about the Adult Social Care Digital Transformation Fund and need help applying for funding?

What are the benefits of Integrated Care Systems?

Discover the benefits of integrated care systems.  

Integrated care systems explained

Integrated care systems explained: discover the purpose of Integrated Care Systems and why they are needed.

How are the 42 Integrated Care Systems improving health outcomes for people across England?

5 Reasons why you should ditch paper and switch to a digital care management system.

Map of integrated care systems

Integrated Care Boards in England - find your local ICS area.