Leicestershire County Council developed a new care technology service, working in partnership with Hampshire County Council.
Against a backdrop of increasing demand, market pressures, increasing costs and financial constraints across health and social care, people need to be kept safe and given independence for as long as possible.
The challenges range from needing to prevent or delay people going in and out of hospital and into expensive residential care, helping carers so they don't reach burnout to helping people stay safe, independent and most importantly, giving them a choice.
Following a diagnostic review of Leicestershire County Council's care technology (CT) service in October 2020, it was clear that there were several opportunities to develop the service and provide care technology as an alternative to more traditional packages of care. Doing so would help to mitigate the challenges as well as provide financial benefits to the council.
The council procured the service from Hampshire County Council with PA Consulting supporting the transformation of the care technology offer. Hampshire and PA Consulting have had a long-standing partnership which has created an innovative award-winning technology enabled care service, delivering significant measurable financial and non-financial benefits.
The contract is directly with Hampshire County Council and uses a sector support model which enables:
- A strategic partnership
- A non-chargeable service to people who are eligible
- A focus on outcomes and benefits for people; it is not technology led and is equipment agnostic
- 24/7 Monitoring services
- A driver for culture change and improved collaborative and system wide relationships
- A service that is intuitive for referrers
- A mixed service delivery model
- A service that measures and tracks benefits.
The project has a small in-house care technology team to take referrals where a worker has identified that technology could support a person to live independently and safely.
The care technology team look at the needs and outcomes and visits the person, assessing and installing the correct technology solution.
The impact of the new service have been wide ranging. It has created a strong care champions network of 30 staff who act as ambassadors to help embed this service and learn about what the technology can do. The ongoing refresher sessions available to staff ensure they are kept up to date with new devices.
Front line workers use a new referral form that has been built into the case management system which makes it easier to direct the workflow to the care technology team. Practitioners are asked to estimate, using professional judgement, the type and size of saving when making a referral which helps to track benefits and savings.
The care technology team have had training on the equipment and contributed at workshops to develop the operating procedures. Although there has been the physical distance from Leicestershire to Hampshire, they worked with staff, offering accommodation, hire cars, dog and children sitting to enable face to face training.
With the imminent switch from analogue to digital, they made the conscious decision to go straight for digital devices by default, only installing analogue devices when there wasn’t a digital alternative or connectivity doesn't exist where the person lives. Whilst this has a higher upfront cost, installing analogue devices would incur costs later to switch them out by 2025. Digital devices also gives the opportunity for remote diagnostics, fault resolution and configuration without the need for a physical visit.
It enables those who directly use the service to increase their feelings of safety, security and independence and results in their carers have more time to themselves, knowing that there is a monitoring service in case of emergencies.
The initial focus of the project is on older people, but it's been proven at Hampshire County Council how care technology can make a real positive difference to working age adults with learning disabilities. Leicestershire County Council hope to explore future opportunities to expand and explore how it could work for children’s social care.
They anticipate similar benefits experienced by Hampshire County Council following implementation of the new service which include:
- Financial – an alternative to commissioning more traditional expensive packages of care
- Positive impacts for people
- Service take up
- Culture change - where social care workers consider care technology as a first option offer.
Having experienced partners to work with meant they were able to flag potential pitfalls early, saving the project a lot of mistakes along the way.
Key takeaways to making this a successful project were:
- Building an initial, strong business case and properly resourcing from the start of the project.
- Working in partnership to co-design and implement the new service model at pace.
- Engaging elected members during the process, answering questions to give members assurance.
Winning over hearts and minds can often be the biggest barrier, so having Hampshire County Council front line staff share their experiences with their peers was particularly beneficial during the initiation sessions for their Care Champions Network. It meant that care pathway staff could see how the service had benefitted people in Hampshire on the ground.
They had support from the adult social care management team and a pro-active senior responsible officer role at that level, as well as a dedicated lead from the Transformation Unit to act as project manager and be a focal point.
Other key actors in the project include the learning and development colleagues who set up training for Care Champions, front-line care pathway staff to train staff on end-to-end processes, the communications unit, the care technology team and the service manager who worked tirelessly to juggle the work and keep the team motivated, reassured and on track.
Something that had to be considered was service transition, as there was an interim period of six weeks prior to the launch when the service only accepted referrals that met new service eligibility criteria or were urgent.
This meant that the care technology team were able to undertake their training of new processes, devices and installation techniques. They have been fully engaged in the redesign of the new service and developed this simple new way of working:
Giving you the confidence to live your life to the fullest. Promoting choice, independence and safety within the communities where we all live and work.