Prevention and early intervention should be at the forefront of support services for older people.

Through bringing all of the services together that need to collaborate to support the health and wellbeing of older people, it means making day-to-day living easier. Through integrated health and care wrapped around the needs of older people, such as occupational therapy, social workers and primary care, we are able to support older people to continue to live independent and meaningful lives.

In 2017 the Birmingham health and social care system and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) undertook reviews of the health and social care services and identified challenges and opportunities to improve both.

To address these challenges and opportunities, the Birmingham Older People’s Programme (now called Birmingham Integrated Care Partnership) was formed in October 2018 with a Vision ‘to make Birmingham a great place to grow old by providing the right care at the right time in the right place”. 

To help realise this Vision, six health and social care organisations in the region combined forces to create an Early Intervention programme to serve the 1m+ population of the city.

Early Intervention is a new integrated approach to health and social care for Birmingham. It aims to support people to recover faster and live healthier and more independent lives, ideally at home.

The programme system partners are Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospitals Birmingham, Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, Birmingham and Solihull CCG and Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG.

This united Early Intervention partnership was underpinned with a Memorandum of Understanding and a Data Sharing Agreement which makes it easier for healthcare professionals to work together.

The aim of the Early Intervention programme is ‘to provide the right care in the right place at the right time’, with a ‘home first ethos’.

Its goals are:

  • to prevent unnecessary hospital admission
  • to prevent premature admissions to long-term residential care
  • to avert delays in discharge from hospital
  • to help patients to remain as independent as possible in their own surroundings.

Early Intervention is playing an integral role in Birmingham’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. It also includes a dedicated COVID-19 pathway which ensures that people recovering from the virus can benefit from intensive rehabilitation support in their own surroundings.

An introduction to Early Intervention is available to read here.


The Early Intervention programme is now fully rolled out. More than 1,000 staff are now delivering Early Intervention services across the city, helping to transform the delivery of health and social care in Birmingham.

The approach consists of several components:

  • OPAL: Geriatrician lead multi-disciplinary team based at the front door of our acute hospitals.  They help older people to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions and ensure they receive the right care they need to recover in the most appropriate setting, ideally in their own home. OPAL+ is an extension of the OPAL service.  It is a collaboration between the OPAL team and the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS).  WMAS crews who are unsure whether a person needs to be taken to the Emergency Department use telephone and video technology to connect them and their patients to the OPAL teams at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham to hold a virtual consultation. This is preventing thousands of unnecessary hospital admissions.
  • iHub: The integrated hub (iHub) is a single point of access for discharge to assess.  Supporting discharges from acute hospitals and admissions and discharges in community settings.  It can operate seven days a week 8am-8pm depending on demand.
  • EI Beds: Intermediate based bed care within a community hospital/care setting which supports patients to recover to the point where they can return to their own surroundings, ideally home, to continue their recovery.
  • EI Community Team (EICT): Delivering urgent community response services, the EICT is an integrated multi professional health and care team that supports people to achieve their optimum level of independence after early supported discharge into their own home.  EICT also prevents unnecessary hospital admissions and supports people to remain and be looked after in their own home.
  • Mental Health Wards: Mental health professionals working collaboratively across al EI pathways to help integrate mental and physical health care to enhance and improve outcomes for people.
  • HoBS (Specialist Palliative Care and End of Life): A collaboration of the four Birmingham and Solihull Hospices to support healthcare professionals with specialist palliative care advice and guidance and where appropriate to enable rapid hospital admission or hospice at home provision.

The system roll out followed an intensive four-month programme of testing at health and social care venues across the south of the city. The five components were combined to see if they worked in tandem with one another.

Watch here to find out how Early Intervention works in practice.



Learn more about Early Intervention

Learn how Early Intervention was developed