Social Care Directors “Will Widen Their Commissioning Role”

Social Care leaders are pushing their sights wider than social and health care services when firming up future commissioning plans, according to Association of Directors of Adult Social Services President Anne Williams.

{mosimage}In a speech to the National Care Forum this week, Ms Williams said managers are increasingly aware that leisure, culture, housing and other services are vital ingredients of local authorities’ duty to provide for the wellbeing of their citizens.

“This wider commissioning role is needed in order to focus more fully on the health and social care needs of the population, and has to be underpinned by joint research, intelligence and strategic needs assessments.

“The research should help ensure a meaningful involvement of public, users, and carers in our commissioning strategies,” she said.

In a wide-ranging speech which highlighted the major challenges faced by both commissioners and providers, Ms Williams urged all her colleagues and their partner agencies to:

  • FOCUS on outcomes and development of performance frameworks for contract specifications and monitoring,
  • WORK in partnership with providers to help develop new services and new ways of working,
  • SUPPORT the development of new providers where the market called for it,
  • MAINTAIN stability and choice of services while moving to selfdirected support models,
  • PROVIDE better information for the public at large,
  • DEVELOP robust contract/quality monitoring, perhaps by using `mystery shoppers’ more frequently.

Ms Williams pulled no punches, either, when she outlined the challenges that providers were going to have to overcome in the new social and health care climates that are emerging. “They must respond and adapt to changing needs and models of service,” she warned. “Dementia care, telecare, re-ablement,and extra care along with more direct paying customers all mean that different methods of contract and quality monitoring are going to have to be developed.

“New areas of service will emerge where not working in partnership with other providers, or not providing good quality information for the public generally as well as social care users and carers will simply not be realistic options,” she said. The outcomes, though, would be “well worth the tremendous efforts required.”

More and better quality joint commissioning and joint monitoring, with pooled budgets and lead commissioning; continued partnership working with providers; widening opportunities for innovation with new providers, and a real focus on outcomes, independence, social inclusion, employment, and re-ablement were all important targets to be pursued.

“If pursued robustly, they will help drive up the quality of care and services we commission and provide for adults and their families in our communities,” she said.