Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of carers as coordinators of care in their own right. It outlines how statutory and voluntary agencies can work together to support carers in this role, yet also help them work towards personal outcomes to sustain their own quality of life. It also proposes that approaches to working with carers can reveal lessons for integration.
Design/methodology/approach – The research analysed data from focus groups and document analysis to examine how carers and professionals experienced two different approaches to engaging with carers: the Midlothian carer ' s assessment and VOCAL ' s outcomes focused approach. From this, several themes emerged which are relevant to the current debate on integration.
Findings – Carers were found to be key co-ordinators of care who play a role in the integration of services. Approaches to working with carers can better enable personal outcomes, and integrate carers as equal partners. In addition, improved integration between services can also improve outcomes for carers.
Research limitations/implications – Approaches to working with carers should be carer and outcome focused, and partnership working can mean that carers feel more empowered and included. This helps to achieve personal outcomes, as well as enhance integrated working between other services. However, differentiation between services might, in places, contribute to better outcomes for people.
Originality/value – This paper shifts the focus of integration to look the role of carers as equal partners, and also illustrates how statutory and voluntary services can work better together, while preserving their distinct identities.