Providers promise to save councils money and boost outcomes

Councils can avoid slashing adult care services and improving user outcomes by commissioning a new integrated offer combining home care, telecare and home adaptations, claim the providers behind the initiative.

Domiciliary care and housing repairs provider the Mears Group has joined forces with Tunstall, the country’s largest telecare provider, and one of the largest adaptations providers, AKW Medicare, to offer councils an integrated service that they believe will boost efficiency significantly.

The initiative is also backed by Foundations, the representative body for the country’s home improvement agencies, which support vulnerable homeowners and private tenants to carry out home improvements or adaptations.

Under the most eye-catching proposal (see below), Mears is offering to purchase telecare for council-funded home care clients it serves at its own risk, so long as commissioners promise to let it share in any resulting savings from reduced care home or hospital admissions for these clients.

Mears executive director Alan Long said the group were trying to offer councils an alternative to raising eligibility criteria and slashing services in dealing with the cuts they are receiving from central government.

“What we will say is that you can take 10% off services, raise eligibility criteria but all you’re doing is trying to push water up a hill,” he said. “You’ve got more people coming in; you’re not going to get more money; you’re going to have to think differently. At the moment 99% of councils are applying a sticking plaster to services.”

He said separate commissioning of these services, as practiced by councils, was wasteful. “In my experience as a domiciliary care provider, when telecare goes in, the care plan doesn’t change very much and the care worker is not really aware of what telecare can do.”

The proposals are to:

• To provide commissioners, self-funders and personal budget holders with a single access point to access home care, home adaptations, telecare and social housing repairs, co-ordinated by Mears.

• Service users to receive integrated assessments and reviews of their needs across all of these service areas, carried out by Mears senior care staff.

• Mears to purchase telecare for home care clients, saving councils money up front, and to share in any savings from reduced care home or hospital admissions.

• Home improvement agencies to provide advice and brokerage to clients in accessing the full range of services.

The group is now approaching commissioners to see if any will agree to test the model.

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