Integrated Care and Chocolate

I heard an interesting fact today. The cocoa plant is grown commercially in Central Africa and also in South Central America. They are the same plant grown in similar latitudes and genetically identical. But, what is so interesting is the chocolate they produce tastes completely different. Why is this so? Well it is the influence of the local environmental factors such as, “soil types, cultivation techniques and water sources.”

By Stephen Boyle RGN, BA (Hons) MSC – Clinical Subject Matter Expert with CSC

It is fascinating to note that health and social care in the UK is facing very similar, country-wide problems generated by our aging population and the burden on the healthcare system from people living with one or more long-term conditions. However, will one integrated care solution suffice to tackle the issues? Well, yes it might.

Or like cocoa, will the local influences mean that the solutions will differ depending on the local health and social care landscape? Will the effectiveness depend on the local relationships and leadership pulling together in the same direction? Or will the needs of each organization scupper a “whole system solution”?

That being the case, providers and commissioners will need to look to solutions that allow them to “flex solutions” to meet the needs of their local health and care communities. They will need to look to solutions and services that tie organizations together in “networks” aimed to meet needs.

CSC is working now on services and solutions that can be tailored and flexed to a whole health community. Yes, the issues are the same across the country but the “chocolate” will probably taste differently.



  1. Great blog and insight..tho can’t help feeling slightly disappointed the article wasn’t actually going to tell me that at last it’s been clinically proven that chocolate really is good for your health;)


  2. Very good analogy Steve. I think that’s the crux of the biggest healthcare issue the UK has got. We have a “National” Health Service where decisions regarding treatment and care are made at a local level depending on funding, local landscape and also the preferences of individual clinicians.

    I often work in a unit that is technically run by one Trust in on county. In actual fact it lives just inside the boundaries of a different county. This means provision of services external to that unit are run differently to (quite literally) a mile and a half down the road.
    Until we can get a top down agreement on how we deal with a particular condition, which doesn’t change based on location and all of the other areas we know can provide differences of care then we will rely on goodwill and crossed fingers in some cases.

    A “whole system solution” would need the support of all stakeholders and more importantly would need strong leadership to almost mandate a specific way of working, backed up by evidence of best practice which we know most staff don’t have the time to keep up to date on in their own sphere of influence, yet alone if it becomes a specialty they are unfamiliar with.

    The concept of many Star Trek hologramatic Doctors and other staff all with access to the most up to date information and who act solely with regards to the patient’s needs and not that of any of the other influencing factors might just be the way to ensure standardised patient care.

    However, until that utopia (or dystopia depending on your point of view) arrives, then the chocolate will continue to taste differently depending on how each individual health and care provider networks with others. Hopefully, regardless of approach, we will still end up with an approach that sees us improving care for the public, even if the hologram will be light years away…..


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