Lancashire County Council has given the go-ahead for the second phase of a £7.4m contract to transform and cut the cost of its social care service.
The council announced today that it had signed a contract with consultants Newton Europe Ltd to introduce a “Passport to Independence” scheme intended to transform social care, improve the service and save at least £18m a year.
The Passport scheme is intended to help people remain independent for as long as possible. Its aims include reducing the number of people going into long-term residential care and helping people to return home more quickly after leaving hospital.
While the contract is based on securing a minimum of £17.8m annual savings for the council, it is hoped that it will eventually save up to £30.1m per year and reduce bed blocking.
This is the second phase of a tender originally awarded in December 2015. The first phase saw Newton designing the new service and now it must implement it.
County Coun Tony Martin, cabinet member for adult and community services, said central government funding for social care had failed to keep pace with demand so the council had turned to consultants for help: “As in the rest of the country, the health and social care sector in Lancashire is under extreme pressure. More people are living longer but often with ill-health and other needs in their later years. Here in Lancashire we are facing a £95m funding gap for social care in 2020/21.
“Faced with these challenges we are changing the way we work and have brought in specialist expertise to help us do this, in the form of Newton Europe who have successfully helped other councils, such as Kent, improve their services while making significant savings.
“Passport to Independence is all about helping people in Lancashire be as independent as possible for as long as possible. We want to make sure that people have the care they need and we will then stay in regular contact with them to adjust their level of support, if necessary, rather than waiting for a crisis.”
A pilot project had, he said already had “encouraging results”.
He said: “We have already trialled many of the new ways of working with really encouraging results. Our trial teams halved the number of people going into long-term residential care. The proportion of people going directly to their own homes from hospital rose by 25%. And another team completed 91% more assessments and reviews during the trial.”
He continued: “Achieving these sorts of the results across the whole of the county would significantly improve the service we offer and help to make the savings we need to ensure that we can continue to provide these services in the future. Success will also help ease pressure on the health service.”
Changes will include:
• Supporting people to get home from hospital as quickly as possible
• Developing new “reablement services”, using occupational therapy to help people make a quick return to independent living
• Removing non-social work tasks, such as finding care home places, from social workers so they can carry out more assessments and reviews
• Bringing professionals from different fields together to make sure care solutions are found quickly for complicated cases
• Providing better and more relevant information and services to people seeking advice by phone
It has been acknowledged Passport to Independence is particularly focused on better managing demand and will reduce the overall size of care packages.
But the council says it believes ensuring people only have the care they need “makes it easier for them to return to independence and leads to better outcomes for individuals and overall financial savings”.
Steve Knight, Associate Director for Newton Europe, said: “Newton and LCC have co-designed a programme that combines a data-driven approach with the knowledge and insight of the local teams. This has resulted in real change on the ground including enabling the citizens of Lancashire to enjoy their independence for longer, so they continue to contribute to their community and make choices about how they want to live their life. We are now looking forward to rolling out these changes to the wider county.”
East Lancashire was the first area to pilot changes, with the Passport now due to be introduced across the whole county by July.
Improved scheduling, reduced paperwork and travel time and less duplication of services will contribute to savings. It has been stressed staff must have information available to make “consistent and accurate decisions”.
The Passport to Independence is the second phase of a tender originally awarded in December 2015. The first phase saw Newton designing the new service model and now it must implement it.
A county council spokesman said: “The total fee payable to Newton for their work across Adult Social Care, including achieving annual savings of up to £30.1m, and payment for diagnostic work and design work across all other areas of Adult Social Care would be a maximum of £7.4m. If the minimum £17.8m annual savings are not achieved the fee will be reduced proportionately.”
• A report on the new Passport was presented to the Lancashire Health and Wellbeing Board meeting earlier today. Afterwards meeting observer and Save Chorley Hospital campaigner Lousie Pajak claimed: “All that reablement is about is cutting people’s care packages with very little support.”