Care coordination for older people in the third sector: scoping the evidence

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

Health and Social Care in the Community 2017,

Available online 24 Dec 2017


The third sector has played a significant role internationally in the
delivery of adult social care services for many years. Its contribution to
care co-ordination activities for older people, however, in England and
elsewhere, is relatively unknown. A scoping review was therefore
conducted to ascertain the character of the literature, the nature and
extent of third sector care co-ordination activity, and to identify evidence
gaps. It was undertaken between autumn 2013 and summer 2014 and
updated with additional searches in 2016. Electronic and manual searches
of international literature using distinct terms for different approaches to
care co-ordination were undertaken. From a total of 835 papers, 26 met
inclusion criteria. Data were organised in relation to care co-ordination
approaches, types of third sector organisation and care recipients. Papers
were predominantly from the UK and published this century. Key
findings included that: a minority of literature focused specifically on
older people and that those doing so described only one care coordination
approach; third sector services tended to be associated with
independence and person-centred practice; and working with the
statutory sector, a prerequisite of care co-ordination, was challenging and
required a range of features to be in place to support effective
partnerships. Strengths and weaknesses of care co-ordination practice in
the third sector according to key stakeholder groups were also
highlighted. Areas for future research included the need for: a specific
focus on older people’s experiences; an investigation of workforce issues;
detailed examination of third sector practices, outcomes and costs;
interactions with the statutory sector; and an examination of quality
assurance systems and their appropriateness to third sector practice. The
main implication of the findings is a need to nurture variety within the
third sector in order to provide older people and other adults with the
range of service options desired