How Gloucestershire County Council is enhancing support for adults with disabilities while reducing service costs (Guest post)

Chris Haynes, Joint Commissioner for Gloucestershire County Council, explains how implementing new homecare technology has enabled them to enhance the quality of service for adults with disabilities and improve joint working with external care providers.

In the UK, community support services for adults with disabilities represents billions of pounds of public spending. However, the increased demand on services and well-publicised pressure on social care across the country has resulted in UK councils, including Gloucestershire, trying to find new ways to deliver support to an increasing number of people, without causing greater financial strain.

In a bid to maximise allocated budgets within our disability service, we reviewed our commissioning practices for externally provided community support. The council works with several care providers delivering support to hundreds of vulnerable adults with both learning and physical disabilities. Traditionally, each external provider would produce a hard-copy invoice for services rendered with no breakdown of the level of support delivered. Without this granular detail, it was difficult to see what care had been delivered and to whom.

We decided to explore alternative solutions that would provide us with more visibility over externally delivered care, in order to increase service viability and reduce potential inefficiencies.

 

Finding the right solution

Electronic call monitoring systems have been used extensively to achieve efficiencies and increase quality for domiciliary care for over a decade. As the first council to extend the benefits to a new service area, we wanted to understand how the existing commissioned care was being delivered. We conducted a real-time pilot study to determine the current service levels; the project found under-delivery of commissioned support in the region of 7-10%, confirming the potential to save money that could be re-invested in the service.

While the study found a need to change the way we operated, we were very clear that rather than dictating terms to our externally commissioned care providers, we wanted them to be involved in the process to reduce the risk of partnership breakdowns and let them see first-hand the benefits of enhanced transparency.

In order to ensure maximum understanding and collaboration, we invited a small group of providers to be involved in a pilot study. We wanted to give them the opportunity early on to see how the new technology could complement and streamline working practices in both support delivery and administration. They were impressed with the level of detail provided by a homecare monitoring solution and embraced the idea of change.

Following a tender process, the council chose to partner with CM2000 to deploy CallConfirmLive! The system was designed to improve visibility of externally delivered care by providing validation and a wealth of information about shared care and one-to-one situations.

 

Transforming Learning Disability Services

Our priority is to ensure our customers receive the best care. With CallConfirmLive! we now have the ability to monitor visits in detail including visit duration, the support worker in charge and the client receiving support. Through the use of effective real-time alerts there is now a reduced risk of support not taking place, and action can be taken if support is not delivered punctually.

The system is also able to record continuity of support worker, which is crucial to a high quality support provision, particularly in situations where a client has specific communication or behavioural needs and will benefit from establishing a relationship with a consistent support worker. The ability to see which staff visit a client most means the provider can plan to ensure clients are receiving the best possible support from a recognisable face.

With the new system, we are able to operate payments on the basis of actual support delivered. As a result, we reported savings in excess of £500,000 during the first 11 months of the phased implementation. After the system was embedded and appropriately monitored, our savings increased significantly to £1m per annum and we have maintained that level ever since.

The introduction of CallConfirmLive! has also driven efficiencies with significant reductions in administration times. Support workers have now changed the way they record attendance and client information from the previous paper-based system of filling out timesheets and forms, freeing up valuable time to be spent delivering support to clients.

We are committed to ensuring our clients receive the support they are entitled to and we are continuously exploring new technologies for improving client services. The Council will shortly be implementing CM2000’s Outcomes Module, which uses data recorded from a wide range of assessment methodologies to provide vital information on clients’ wellbeing. This will allow providers to tailor support around individuals’ needs, thereby improving their support journey and outcomes as a result.

Implementing electronic call monitoring has been a win-win for Gloucestershire County Council and our clients. It has had a positive impact on the quality of the services we provide while at the same time allowing us to deliver essential savings.

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