The Department of Health should promote a national roll-out of schemes to support smaller adult care providers in order to deliver the personalisation agenda.
That was the message from Oldham Council director of adult and community services Paul Davies, whose authority is one of two piloting a support service in a Department of Health-funded trial managed by Naaps (formerly the National Association of Adult Placement Services), which represents small community providers.
The small community services project, which is also running in Kent, was set up after a decline in the number of “micro-providers”, despite evidence that smaller bodies were often best-placed to tailor services to users under personalisation.
Both pilots have a full-time co-ordinator offering advice, networking and marketing support to providers with five or fewer staff that are not part of a larger parent organisation. The schemes are also designed to identify and minimise local and national barriers to entering the care market.
In Oldham, the support service is in contact with 29 organisations, most of which were not providing a service before the pilot and the majority of which are not traditional social care services, such as a dance and fitness club for people with learning disabilities.
A lot of people who previously would have not seen themselves as providing services for people with support needs are beginning to understand that they can, with the right support, provide a good service,” said Davies.
He said services offered by larger providers were often insufficiently personalised, however “big, complex” local authority tendering processes have squeezed out smaller bodies.
The pilots are due to end this summer. Davies said the council would continue the service but urged the Department of Health to promote a national roll-out to “ensure a proper range of providers under personalisation”.
Naaps ‘ head of projects, Angela Catley, said the group was producing a practical guide for councils on supporting smaller providers, including information on the skills required by co-ordinators.