The Missing Link in Social Care

Tony Pilkington, managing director at Younifi, the managed service solution for adult social care, explains how the system can, and must be, simplified. 

With a predicted funding gap of £2.3 billion by 2020, continuing austerity measures and our increasingly ageing population, an uncertain future lies ahead for adult social care.

Local authorities are, even more than usual, aspiring to do better in social care. They want to deliver a personalised approach to care recipients, while ensuring these services can be monitored and managed efficiently and effectively for all. However, it’s not easy. Working across a variety of services including home support, care home provision, adaptations to homes, equipment, informal support and much more, local authorities struggle to keep abreast of what is being spent by all people (regardless of whether they are council or self-funded) and to what benefit or outcome.

To that affect, councils struggle to see where best to put their time and limited resources to get maximum impact and outcomes for each service user whose needs, preferences and budgets are different and unique. To have efficient and effective management of all of these requirements across an authority’s multiple management systems has become increasingly challenging.

And, it’s not just local authorities who are struggling with the management of care. A piece of research we carried out last year showed that the majority of care recipients have little knowledge of the care options available to them and only a few know what their care actually costs. However, information sharing was considered critical to care success by both care recipients and carers. Key details on day-to-day activity must be made available across a person’s support network of family and friends, social care professionals, health care professionals and care providers.

A new approach

Over recent years, an ever-growing demand for services coupled with relatively static budgets has thrown some major challenges to authorities, care providers, people and their families as costs increase, choice is diluted and both the market and professionals working within it are stretched to their limits. Yet, that aspiration to do things better remains. More recent initiatives such as personalisation, prevention and the development of community-based assets is driving the need for a diverse market that authorities now have neither the capacity nor processes to fully deliver within the significantly reduced budgets. After working in social care and on social care transformation projects for many years, I’ve witnessed many great ideas. However, there is a clear need for various resources and initiatives to be better integrated into one simple process for both the personalised care and value-for-money agendas to be realised as one. Local authorities are now asking for radical solutions that give them the opportunity to pull all of these services together.

In my various conversations and meetings with senior leaders in adult social care across the UK, when we discuss innovation, there is a clear appetite towards different solutions that better address how care is managed, funded and provided locally to the benefit of the people the council serve.

A social care market for the modern world requires many providers, of all sizes, delivering into an increasingly diverse community and offering far more types of service and support. Authorities are tasked with delivering greater support to all people, to help them have more choice and control, better involvement in their care experience and achieve better outcomes at lower costs. Demand cannot be stemmed but what authorities can do is change the way they respond to it and positively change its future course. It requires the industry to be able to work together across authorities, partners, providers and people to adopt radically different relationships and responsibilities to create not just the right social care but a sustainable social care.

YPO, the professional buying organisation for the public sector, recognised that the social care market, along with community health, was missing a solution that could integrate all aspects of that care and support to enable a holistic approach managing care. It has launched a new national framework with the aim of breaking new ground in the management of adult social care. The Managing Care Solutions framework offers a way for care commissioners to create an evidence base that informs strategic planning, develops and promotes community assets and enables self-care. The framework will help local authorities gain greater visibility and control of adult social care, remove barriers to market entry for care providers to encourage a more diverse offering whilst providing better control and outcomes for those in need of care.

This framework offers true innovation to local authorities and as a solution provider on it we can help adult social care professionals address many of the challenges around managing care, which have until now been constrained by out-of-date solutions and shaped by out-of-date practices. The time is ripe for change and this new framework might just be the solution to make it happen.

 

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