One of the stories to emerge from this care survey is the opportunity we all have to extract more value and better outcomes from the money available to councils.
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Historically, councils and the NHS have been steered by different drivers but now, in this era of emerging new relationships between local authorities and the NHS, alongside organisations in the private and voluntary sectors, there is a positive move to bring the sectors closer together as we strive to invest in new services despite financial challenges.
At Hertfordshire CC as at other councils, innovation remains the key to win-win services that deliver enhanced quality while reducing costs.
An example of this is our Social Care Access Service, which delivers adult social care services for residents on behalf of the council. This service is the result of a redesign in partnership with Hertfordshire CC and later this year will include the emarketplace, which will provide a unique online resource, where service users, their carers or relatives and staff can request information on goods and services including help at home, equipment, care homes, carer support, transport and more.
Speaking with Sarah Pickup, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and director of Adult Social Care at Hertfordshire CC, it’s clear the selection of partners should depend not so much on what type of organisation they are as what they can achieve at what cost.
Commenting on the survey, Ms Pickup said: “While many local authorities will want to develop productive and mutually beneficial relationships with the voluntary sector I was surprised that as many as 54% expect to actually commission additional services from the sector.
“In the current financial climate, scope to commission new services is rare and in formal tender processes authorities tend to select the provider that can deliver the best outcomes and value for money regardless of their sector.”
It was encouraging to learn that the Audit Commission found that in terms of assessments and reviews: “low-cost councils achieve broadly the same levels of service quality as high-cost councils”. This reflects my conviction that such win-win scenarios are achievable through the right partnerships.
Perhaps next year’s survey could ask how well social care professionals feel innovation is driving superior or equivalent outcomes at substantially reduced costs.
Amanda Carey-McDermott, partnership director, Serco
LGC Social Care Survey, in association with Serco
Innovation key to services