The Head of Adult Social Care presented the report of the Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing on an update in respect of the recommissioning work being undertaken for Independent Domiciliary Care (IDC) and Short Breaks services.
She reported that Cabinet at its meeting in November 2014, approved the remodelling homecare implementation plan, which set out the Council’s intentions for meeting the increasing demands for internal homecare and external domiciliary care in a sustainable and managed way. It proposed that a framework agreement be established for the provision of externally commissioned domiciliary care, which allowed the Council to test the current market, strengthen the existing contractual arrangements, and open up the market to new providers, which managed the increased challenges and demands. Cabinet in January 2016, approved the award of a framework agreement to 13 providers for the provision of new packages of domiciliary care for the period 1st April 2016 to 31st March 2018, with an option to extend for a further period of up to 24 months. Following engagement sessions undertaken with stakeholders and providers, Cabinet in January 2017 approved the final commissioning plan for the independent domiciliary care sector in Bridgend, and approved the invitation of tenders to establish a framework agreement for the provision of all packages of commissioned domiciliary care. In September 2017, Cabinet approved the award of a framework agreement to 15 providers (13 existing and 2 new providers) for the provision of domiciliary care for the period 1 January 2018 to the 31 December 2019 with an option to extend for a further period of up to 24 months. The full extension period has subsequently been utilised, with current IDC arrangements ending on 31st December 2021.
The Head of Adult Social Care reported that a series of stakeholder engagement and consultation events took place during 2019/20 to co-produce the model for a new short breaks service. This had resulted in the development of a new pathway for carers’ services in Bridgend. A key part of that pathway is to provide appropriate short breaks for carers through flexible delivery of replacement care to individuals in need of care and support, that will provide more voice, choice and control for individuals and their carers through an ability to bank weekly assessed hours for flexible use within a 4-week window. Following a successful tender exercise, approval was granted (via Delegated Powers) to award contracts for the provision of a regulated domiciliary Short Break Service for individuals and their carers in Bridgend. The duration of contracts entered into was 2 years, commencing in July 2019, with the option to extend for up to a further 24 months.
The Head of Adult Social Care reported that safe, flexible and effective care at home services are an essential part of the Council’s strategy to help and support individuals to maintain their independence. As a consequence of increasing the capacity within care and support at home services, it had enabled the Directorate to manage the volume of placements made into care homes. She stated that the demands on care and support at home services post-Covid is still yet to be fully understood, but the service is already experiencing significant increase in need.
The Head of Adult Social Care reported that alongside the demand pressures, the pandemic has highlighted the fundamental importance of care and support at home, and the role of professional care workers, in providing essential personal care and support to highly vulnerable people to keep them safe, well and connected. There was also a fundamentally changing requirement in respect of the social care workforce and specific requirements in respect of registration and qualification, requiring a highly skilled, professional workforce working with people at the most challenging times of their lives. The social care market remained fragile, with recruitment and retention posing a significant challenge.
The Head of Adult Social Care reported on a proposal to establish a flexible and outcomes-focused regulated Care at Home Service, which is about a more outcome focused way of commissioning as well as personal care outcomes. She stated that a market testing event took place in May 2021, following which, the preferred option for recommissioning homecare services is to use a similar model and concept for the service specification, where there will be a clear emphasis on voice, choice and control for individuals and carers. This will help the Council meet its corporate strategy of helping to keep people resilient and live as independently as possible within their own homes. As with the existing framework agreements in place, the proposal is to implement a four year (2 years with the option to extend by 24 months) Framework Agreement, which will bring both service types (IDC and Short Breaks) in line with one another. It is proposed to carry out the recommissioning exercise in the same way as when IDC and Short Breaks services have previously been tendered, where existing packages of care will only possibly move over to a new provider at point of review, in order to minimise disruption and unrest for individuals.
The Head of Adult Social Care reported on the price schedule for IDC and short break rates which had been tested with potential bidders at the market testing event.
The Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help in commending the recommendations stressed the importance of providers paying staff the real living wage, which will make a significant difference to the care individuals receive and that the authority is setting the pace for other authorities to follow. The Leader was also pleased that this would be a significant step in moving towards commissioned staff receiving the real living wage, which showed the authority’s commitment to valuing care staff.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
• Noted the contents of this report;
• Approved the procurement of a Regulated Care at Home Services Framework Agreement of commissioned specialist providers;
• Delegated authority to the Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing to tender the Framework Agreement for the Regulated Care at Home Services Framework Agreement in consultation with the Chief Officer – Legal, HR and Regulatory Services and noted that a further report shall be presented to Cabinet following the conclusion of the procurement of the Framework Agreement for a decision on whether to award the Framework Agreement and seek approval to enter into the Framework Agreement with successful bidders; and
• Approved a waiver of the Council’s Contract Procedure Rules under Rule 22.214.171.124 from the relevant parts of the Contract Procedure Rules for the extension of the existing terms of the Framework for Independent Domiciliary Care for a further 3 months to 31 March 2022.