Health and social care is a growing global profession that brings together the fields of healthcare and public services. It focuses on the personal, emotional and physical well-being of individuals. Recent policy initiatives have promoted integrated health and social care, including activities to screen patients for social risk at primary care clinics; new cross-sector technology referral platforms; and financing community support services through healthcare funds. Supporting people to lead fulfilling lives Health and Social Care is a vital area of the healthcare sector that supports people in a number of ways. It addresses a broad range of needs, including emotional support and access to housing, food, and health services. The work can be rewarding and challenging, but the sense of contributing to a person’s well-being is immense. To be effective, it is essential to understand populations’ most pressing social needs. This requires a broader assessment than a medical-based approach, which establishes rigid categories and overlooks individuals’ non-medical health challenges. Over the last decade, a number of national and state policy initiatives have advanced integrated health and social care in the United States. These efforts focus on leveraging new value-based payment models in health care and expanding social services. They include activities such as screening patients for social risk and linking them to community resources, and developing new cross-sector collaborations. Many of these initiatives target the 1 in 5 most socially vulnerable Americans insured through Medicaid public insurance. Keeping people safe Those who work in health and social care have vital roles to play when it comes to ensuring that vulnerable adults are safe from harm. They should know how to identify abuse and be able to act appropriately when an incident occurs. This is to prevent abuse from happening, protect those who are most at risk and help them to get the support they need. Vulnerable adults include those who cannot care for themselves and are unable to defend themselves against lesser forms of harm, such as neglect, and severe forms, such as exploitation. This can take the form of physical, emotional or financial abuse. Policy initiatives to integrate health and social care have included screening for social risks in primary health clinics, integrating food banks with health systems and creating multi-disciplinary teams. However, comprehensive evaluation is needed to improve the effectiveness of these efforts. Preventing disease While billions of dollars have helped the health sector digitize its data and systems, social care still lags behind. Local efforts exist, but they are not widely staffed or supported with resources. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some governments are exploring new models for integrated social and health care. Examples include screening patients for social risk factors at their healthcare clinics and connecting them with community services, such as navigation programs. Other countries have experimented with different bi-directional financing models, including aligning budgets to shared objectives; pooling funds and management staff; and integrating health and social care services under one entity. Such integration is most effective when it occurs at the operational level and involves a single point of access for people who need both services. Ideally, this should be guided by person-centred assessment and planning. It should also adhere to high standards of infection prevention and control (IPC). These are essential to prevent the spread of germs that can lead to resistance to existing medicines. Keeping people healthy A career in health and social care gives you a sense of achievement by helping others. This is a rewarding and altruistic way of working, with many people saying it keeps them going in the face of challenges. To ensure that care is provided in the best possible way, governments need to understand how a population’s social needs affect their health and well-being. This helps to ensure that resources are deployed effectively and prevents the need for costly procedures. In the US, three major national and state policy initiatives have advanced integrated care over the past decade, largely within the Medicaid public insurance program for America’s poorest citizens. These include screening for social risks in primary care clinics; building new cross-sector collaborations; and financing social care with healthcare dollars. Early experiences reveal lessons for the development and implementation of these approaches. They are complementary and aligned with the systems practices proposed by a previous National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on community-informed care1.