Operational commissioning

As a programme, we offer a range of support and guidance on operational matters that commissioners are currently facing and working through. This page contains a variety of resources, including materials from workshops we have delivered that aim to support commissioners in their approach, planning and decision-making.

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These resources have been grouped into key areas of focus to reflect the scope of the workshops and the different elements of the situation facing commissioners: operational pressures; high-cost placement negotiations; provider viability and sustainability; cost of care and workforce and retention.

Operational pressures

In response to the growing scale of operational pressures and day-to-day challenges facing commissioners, we commissioned external experts with commissioner and provider experience to run a series of workshops from January to March 2024. 

These brought commissioners together to work through live commissioning challenges they were facing or expected to face. The sessions offered practical solutions, a variety of perspectives, insights into good practise and information sharing.


High cost placements

This section focuses on support and advice for council commissioners to help them manage high-cost care home and supported living placements, where there is often little clarity and transparency about how the overall fee rate for these placements is reached, compared to other forms of support. 

Further support in this area is being developed by PCH and any future events will be promoted widely through our various networks, via the ADASS regional commissioning networks or our Events page.

In March 2024, we commissioned iESE to run several iterations of a workshop which covered:

  • negotiation skills – how to prepare to negotiate and get to a win/win position
  • approach to reviews – the importance of a good review to support discussions
  • understanding budget, value and profit margins – using data and evidence to understand whether pricing is fair and where negotiations should be focused.

Slides from the workshops are available.

Provider viability and sustainability

This section contains information and guidance for commissioners who are looking to understand more about provider viability challenges and how best to respond and sustain their local markets.

Market intelligence reports

Commissioners can get insight into the state of providers in their area through reviewing our market intelligence reports. These reports utilise information from the CQC records of registered locations and more in-depth insights from the Provider Information Return (PIR) responses submitted by registered care providers (residential and community based) in the last 12 months.

Market oversight of adult social care - Care Quality Commission

The CQC operates the market oversight scheme which assesses the financial viability for ‘hard to replace’ providers of adult social care. Commissioners may also wish to review CQC guidance and regulations for social care providers.

Contingency planning toolkit and guidance: North West ADASS

North West ADASS published a 'Contingency planning toolkit and guidance' to assist councils in that region with their contingency planning for potential or actual provider failure. This guide has been developed utilising best practice from the region and national approaches, whilst recognising that every situation is different and it is up to the responsible officer to decide the best approach for their council.

Business continuity guidance and templates - Care Provider Alliance

The Care Provider Alliance (CPA) has produced guidance and templates to help independent and voluntary providers ensure continuity of care, and to ensure their business can continue, if a problem occurs.

Home care market: Understanding and mitigating failure

Our commissioning team ran a roundtable discussion in October 2021 with the East Midlands ADASS team and the Nuffield Trust to explore what actions commissioners can take to mitigating failure in home care.

Cost of care

In 2022, PCH, then CHIP, developed a wide suite of support for councils to enable to complete cost of care exercises required of them by a DHSC grant.

This support was well-received and included the commissioning of access to cost of care tools on behalf of all councils, with around 80 per cent of councils using our commissioned tools to complete the exercise.

Councils can access the home care cost of care tool, alongside accompanying how-to videos and written guidance for utilising the tool.

Following on from the cost of care exercises in 2022, commissioners expressed a desire for tools to help them understand the costs involved in supported living settings. 

We have purchased access to a supported living cost of care tool developed by ARCC, which will help councils and partners obtain a shared understanding of the costs of providing supported living care. 

Councils can access the new tool. The tool is excel-based, and has been made open access, so it can be freely used by all councils and providers, and has guidance embedded within it.

Workforce and retention

This section signposts to information and guidance produced on various critical aspects contributing to a stabilised workforce. For further resources and information, please also check out our workforce pages. 

Top tips for retention – A briefing for adult social care providers

This captures insights and approaches taken by organisations to reduce staff turnover and help retain people in the care and health workforce.

Flexible working in social care

A suite of products produced with social care teams, occupational therapists, trade unions and professional leads to help to make flexible working a viable option for people working in social care.

Overseas recruitment bite-size guide for social care providers

A bite-size guide for social care providers in England which may also be relevant to providers in the UK, to help explore and maximise opportunities overseas recruitment offers.

Top tips for embedding a wellbeing culture

This resource, produced jointly by councils and providers, looks at the importance of health and wellbeing in the workplace and shares several innovative approaches.