Welsh government sets out care commissioning standards

The Welsh government has developed draft guidance to help local authorities improve social care commissioning.

Its commissioning framework and guidance document, which is out for consultation until 30 November, is designed to help councils meet the ambitions of the country’s 10-year social services strategy, Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities, which came into effect last year.

This is designed to shift care from acute provision to prevention and handle increased public expectations of and demand for services, including through greater collaboration between councils.

Commissioning standards

The draft commissioning framework sets 13 standards for commissioning and outlines the roles and responsibilities of councillors, chief officers, commissioning teams, services managers and care managers. Standards include:-

  • Commissioning plans must promote seamless services.
  • Commissioning plans must be based on best practice and sound evidence, including assessments of population needs, and analyses of the care market and the level of resources available.
  • Commissioners must take into account the costs of services and ensure they are sustainable.

It also sets out a number of challenges facing commissioners, including:-

  • Ensuring services and individual care plans are focused on achieving outcomes, not delivering measurable outputs, such as the number of hours of home care provided.
  • Making joint commissioning between councils and local health boards “a highly productive process”, including through pooled budgets and regularly reviewed joint commissioning plans.
  • Building strong partnerships with providers and agreeing a fair price for care.
  • Training the workforce in new skills including engaging with users and carers, stimulating and managing the social care market and decommissioning failing services.

No mention of personalisation

While there is a strong focus in the document on making commissioning “citizen-centred”, including by ensuring services reflect the choices of service users, there is no mention of personalisation – the key concept in adult social care commissioning in England.

Commissioning plans should cover a period from three to five years, it says. An online step-by-step guide for the contracting of social care services in Wales is also being developed, containing templates and advice.

The Association of Directors for Social Services Cymru said it is coordinating feedback from local authorities.

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