Identifying standards of care coordination in adult social care: a multinational perspective

Abendstern M, Hughes J, Jasper R, Sutcliffe C, Challis D

International Journal of Care Coordination 2016, 19, 3–4: 84—101

Available online 6 Jan 2017


Standards for care coordination in adult social care can support the delivery of high-quality services.

A content analysis of 20 guidance documents produced over the last 30 years was undertaken to consider their utility for current practice. a mix of convenience and purposive sampling was used. Data were extracted on document design and substance and were analysed in relation to a conceptual framework that articulated standards as principles of practice situated within elements of care coordination such as assessment.

A total of 24 standards were repeatedly found across the documents. the most frequently cited were user participation, a network approach and person-centred practice. Most documents contained ‘standards’ as identified by the framework above. Variation was found regarding how standards were operationalised in relation to elements of care coordination. Principles were most frequently linked to assessment and care/support planning and least often to referrals and case closures. User participation was the most cited principle, operationalised in relation to all elements of practice in seven documents. a total of 16 standards related to individual practice and eight to agency level responsibilities.

The findings indicate a set of core standards that have demonstrated utility over a 30-year period and to gaps in relation to both the operationalisation of certain principles and particular elements of care coordination. the application of the definition of a standard developed by this study could support the delivery of comprehensive high-quality services across the care coordination pathway. Further research is needed to validate its use in different settings.