Relating to Agenda Item 49 “Support and Care Procurement” – How does the proposed framework for Support and Care procurement tie into your wider plan for Adult Social Care in Wokingham Borough?
I won’t repeat things that I have just said to David but to answer your question directly our ambition is for Wokingham Borough to be one of the best Boroughs in the country and the Care and Support Framework will help us achieve this ambition and work with our partners to enable us to prevent, reduce and delay the need for formal support and care and where possible to improve people’s health and wellbeing, focusing mainly on prevention and self-help. The final specifications will require providers to deliver reablement and strength based commissioning where the individual will always be at the centre of any support.
Adult Social Care will work closely with all the adult social care providers to ensure a high quality choice of services are provided to support and safeguard vulnerable residents, enabling them to achieve our key priority which is to remain independent as long as possible in their own homes and communities. Through this Framework we will ensure that improvements are made in the training and development of the carer workforce.
The Framework will strengthen our commissioning practice, improving the strategic oversight of commissioned activity, market intelligence and engagement with our providers. This will create a much greater stability of placements for our most vulnerable and increase quality assurance resulting in improved outcomes.
So basically in terms of your question how will it support our wider plan? Our wider plan is to drive quality to make sure that every pound of taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and also to deliver on budget. This Department is the biggest in the Council in terms of expenditure. It has been on budget for three years now in an environment where we are underfunded by central Government and there is increasing pressure on us. For me that is no mean achievement but we are not going to rest on our laurels. We are going to keep going and this is a key part in doing it.
You said to David that Adult Social Care is clearly the largest budget in the Council and you indicated how the framework will deliver longer term contracts with more control. Are there any other steps that you have taken that would ensure that we provide high quality services and keep expenditure under control?
Two main things that I would talk about in answer to your question. Since I have been in post, and the current DASS, a key priority for us has been to improve our financial forecasting and keep better budget controls of where we are. We spent the first probably three to four months that I was in this position just working on strengthening our forecasting so that we always knew our expenditure and our current financial position by streamlining the IT, employing a better accountant and working hard in that area.
I mean the other thing I would say, which is something that is going to launch fairly shortly, is we have spent the last 12 months working on a programme to improve the way we manage demand. This service, probably 90% of the expenditure, is on commissioned services rather than staff and the whole point of this demand management approach is that you cannot get better in this service by reducing staff or increasing staff it is about how you spend the money, how you recognise the need and identify what people need earlier. Trying to enable them to live at home if they need support from the voluntary sector and trying to direct them to that. We are going to be adopting an approach which has been successful in several other councils and the aim is simply we will improve quality to people that way and if Adult Social Care does nothing different every year our costs, due to the ageing population and their increasing need, will rise by 4% a year. The aim of this programme as well is that it will slow our increase in costs by roughly 50% so we will be doing more with taxpayers’ money and improving quality.