Opinion social care

On track for effective collaboration

Tandra Foster, Chair of the ADASS commissioning network and Director of Adult Social Care at Devon Council

Tandra Foster, Chair of the ADASS commissioning network and Director of Adult Social Care at Devon Council explains how effective collaboration between commissioners and providers can achieve significant results.

As a Director of Adult Social Care, I’ve seen how good collaboration between commissioners and providers can achieve amazing things for people drawing on care and support.

There will always be some tensions and compromises required between councils and care providers, but I’m pleased to say that, in Devon, we have plenty of examples of successful outcomes.  For example, we’ve worked with providers to move into the home care market, enabling us to support more people to continue living at home independently. This not only helps care providers maintain their sustainability by having a more diverse offer, including unregulated care and support such as enabling care, it also reflects the choices people want to make.

How has this good news story been achieved? We hold regular meetings and collaborative platforms with local care providers to ensure we are creating a culture of continuous improvement. I‘m proud that we are collectively developing our Market Position Statement with significant engagement and contribution from providers.  The success of these working relationships has been officially recognised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which rated 82% of the 475 care providers in Devon as outstanding or good, better than all regional and national comparators.

We’ve worked closely with care providers to move towards Social Care Future’s vision, building on our own Promoting Independence Policy. This has required us all – council staff and providers alike – to reflect on how we work with people drawing on care and support. For example, we work together to discover what people can do for themselves already and what they aspire to do.  Care providers are key to helping us use commissioned care and support to build on and develop people’s existing abilities and skills.  This hopefully means we enable people to maintain their independence for longer and in turn, reduce the need for long term care and support.

We play a proactive role in supporting our care providers to maintain good quality performance levels – that means understanding them and being ready to respond quickly with support if needed.  It’s only by genuine collaboration, co-production, and investing time in relationships that people are supported to have the best possible experience and outcome from social care.

Boosting our workforce through international recruitment has offered us the opportunity to deliver more care and support across Devon.  We’ve worked with providers to help them navigate international recruitment and ensure ethically and this new capacity has encouraged providers to be active in areas with long standing sufficiency challenges.  Providers have been encouraged to look at the unsourced care list, and the opportunity to pick up care packages within existing rounds. Is has not only meant more people are receiving care, but existing rounds become more sustainable. Over the last 14 months we have seen a 95% reduction in the number of people waiting for their preferred package of care, and at the time of writing only one person in Devon is in a temporary care home placement waiting for home care.

Whilst this boost to recruitment brings many benefits, it also raises new challenges from a business planning perspective.  Care providers have been able to increase their capacity exponentially, while there has only been a slight increase in people drawing on care across the county. Some personal care providers have seen healthy growth, whereas some have experienced reductions in commissioned care.  We’ve been sharing data with the market to help inform their planning and to understand better both the opportunities for providers, and the risks. It’s important for us to continue to create an environment where we can collaborate to maximise opportunities and find solutions to new issues.

Like most councils, one of our challenges is looking at how we can be more efficient and effective in delivering care.  We know we’ve not got it right yet, but we believe we’re on the right track though our collaboration with care providers, including the Community Services Co-design Group.  This ensures that when people access social care it is the right care for them, in the right place at the right time, and that might be for a short time to learn or relearn the skills and strengths they need.

We also know that there are increasing numbers of people requiring more complex care than ever before.  This requires working with our care providers to recruit and training greater numbers of care workers with specific skills to deliver this type of care and support. So it’s important we work with providers in both getting things right for the here and now, but also developing a care market that will meet all of our needs in twenty years’ time.

@1adass @DevonCC

adass.org.uk devon.gov.uk


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