Earlier this year, and to much fanfare, chancellor Philip Hammond announced an additional £2bn for councils in England for adult social care over the next three years.
However, while any efforts made to relieve pressure on this sector are to be welcomed, this alone will not solve the range of challenges and issues faced. Quality of service is still compromised by out-of-date systems, lack of skills within the workforce, too much time spent on business-as-usual tasks, and an incredibly high rate of employee turnover.
As an example, last year employee resourcing became a challenge for North Lincolnshire Council, which in turn impacted its ability to keep on top of its adult social care financial assessments. The lack of trained personnel created a backlog of up to 12 weeks, resulting in delayed revenue for the council and customer frustration, a scenario that may be all too familiar for local councils and social care departments across the UK.
In these situations, simply throwing money at the problem and hiring more resources can do more harm than good: steps taken to upskill existing employees can keep them from vital work in their current roles, or too much time is then spent trying to recruit talent in an increasingly competitive environment.
These efforts can, in turn, take away from investing in new transformation projects. Our recent research with GlobalData found that in local government over two thirds of ICT budgets are spent on ‘keeping the lights on’, taking valuable time and money away from improving processes and services.
In cases such as these, some suppliers offer on-demand employee and resources provided through a flexible contract which, once set up, enables customers to access resources as and when required. This is precisely how Civica worked with North Lincolnshire Council, resulting in clearing the backlog in just nine weeks, in a cost-neutral way.
Simply plugging resourcing gaps in social care will not be enough. Indeed, this reinforces the need for a wholesale ‘service transformation’ of the sector. The only way the social care sector can truly address the funding crisis it faces is by freeing up resources to focus on delivering transformation projects. A holistic approach is the key to allow social care organisations to best adapt to future issues and prepare themselves for the challenging environment ahead.
Gary Bell, executive director of outsourcing, Civica
Column sponsored and supplied by Civica
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