Call for social care commissioning reform

Ravi Bains, social care entrepreneur and founder of the Contollo Care Group, has outlined his vision to improve the social care system in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Calling for a new commissioning framework of national minimum standards that allows for regional variation, Bains highlights the need to address local pressures while meeting robust standards of quality.

Bains is calling for contracts to be awarded on the basis of the quality of care provided, with careful consideration paid to the concept of best value beyond price.

Under a new commissioning system, social care contracts would not be awarded on lowest cost, but on the provider’s ability to sustainably provide excellent care, with the potential of linking contracts to quality indicators such as CQC ratings and customer feedback.

In the UK, a fifth of all social care providers’ services are rated as ‘Requires improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’ which must be urgently addressed. By establishing a national minimum standard and national accountability, the government can work with local authorities to address systemic problems while developing the provision of services available in the region.

Bains points to the Scottish model of homecare as an example of best practice, with multiple agencies working together with providers to deliver high-quality care.

woman in black crew neck shirt wearing blue earbuds

Under the current system, Bains has witnessed a national care provider with a user satisfaction rating of 97% lose a major contract to a company with a much lower user satisfaction rating.

The deciding factor was a 10p difference in the hourly rate in their service proposals. Bains argues awarding contracts on this basis will end up increasing costs for the Authority in question, as services with a lower CQC score are likely to require more monitoring. It is time that we award contracts on the ability to deliver exceptional care rather than the ability to save small amounts of money.

Rather than being anti-small provider, Bains believes this approach would be anti-poor provider, allowing social care to place more priority on good quality and avoid a dangerous race to the bottom.

This will allow the guiding principle behind social care commissioning to be a passion for quality rather than price. Bains also highlights the need for the government and local authorities to continue to consult with social care providers and take advantage of grass-roots expertise to create a more targeted approach.

Commenting on his vision for social care commissioning reform, Ravi Bains said: ‘When it comes to social care commissioning, a one size fits all approach simply will not work. An adequately funded, uniform approach to commissioning must be put in place to avoid a dangerous race to the bottom.

 ‘A social care commissioning framework of national minimum standards that is led by experts who live and breathe social care will be transformative to our society. We need to start asking big questions of what we want health and social care to look like for our loved ones now and in the future.

 ‘The time is now for a multi-agency, multi-faceted national approach to commissioning where quality comes first.’

Photo Credit – Zach Vessels


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