New team to help older people live independent lives

Published: 8 August 2018

A new team is set to be recruited as part of a raft of measures designed to reduce delays in getting people home from the hospital, support independent care providers and give older people greater choice in their care.

The proposed new in-house scheduling team would operate 7 days a week, organising the work of our care workers in the community who help older and disabled people live independently in their own homes.

Creating a new team is just 1 element of a wider plan by us to support the NHS’s move to 7-day working, continue its good work reducing delays in getting people home from the hospital and preventing them being admitted to hospital.

A report agreed by our Cabinet outlined the new approach which is designed to:

  • refocus the work of our own home care teams to short-term and reablement work to concentrate on getting people home from the hospital as soon as  safely possible and preventing them going into hospital
  • encourage the take-up of longer-term care contracts by the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) care sector
  • introducing a new scheduling team working 7 days a week

As well as being more responsive and flexible, the new scheduling system is designed to free up home care organisers so they have more time to review clients, observe staff and carry out risk assessments.

Our Cabinet Member for Adult Care Councillor Jean Wharmby said:

“The county council is committed to helping older and disabled people live independent, fulfilled and dignified lives by supporting them in their own homes for as long as possible.

“By focusing our own in-house care teams on shorter term work, we’ll be helping to make sure people don’t have to stay in hospital longer than they need to or go into hospital unnecessarily.

“But we can’t do this alone,”

she said.

“We also rely on dozens of private, voluntary and independent sector care providers that carry out excellent work in Derbyshire helping people retain their independence.

“We need to work closely with them to create a stable and sustainable market to ensure local people have access to a choice of suitable, high-quality care.”

We’re supporting the independent sector to take on longer term, more complex care. Our own care teams will concentrate on short-term and reablement work, including hospital discharge assessments which are done in a person’s own home.

Councillor Wharmby added:

“With these measures we’re helping ensure the independent care market is on a more secure footing, which should give them confidence to expand.

“Supporting the independent sector alongside making our own systems more flexible is vital if we want people to have good quality care choices in the future.”

A variety of other measures are being used to increase care choices and last year we agreed to:

  • pay a 7-day retainer to agencies if home care clients are admitted to hospital -currently, we stop paying for care after 24 hours resulting in cancelled shifts and reduced pay for staff – retainers help agencies keep staff and speed up hospital discharges as placements remain open
  • increase travel payments to help agencies pay staff travel time.
  • introduce ‘Red Bags’ for use by care home residents when they are admitted to hospital – they contain items needed for a stay, including personal details and medicines, are highly visible and help to ensure items do not go missing

Earlier this year we also stopped bidding for long-term contracts although we will still retain some care packages, particularly in rural areas.

In 2017 our staff carried out over 171,000 care visits. To increase responsiveness, extend services and improve demand management, we’re set to:

  • recruit 21 business service assistants at grade 5 to schedule care appointments and 1.5 grade 7s to manage the team
  • introduce a 2-shift pattern for members of the scheduling team to cover the hours of 7 am to 10 pm, including weekends
  • subject to consultation with staff, introduce a new working pattern for DSOs (domiciliary service organisers), creating a 5 in 7 rota, to fully extend services to weekends

Councillor Wharmby said:

“Last year we had the lowest rate of delayed transfers of care (DToCs) of any shire county in the country, 3 months running.

“By working together with the wider care sector and our health partners, as well as changing the way we work, we will continue to help deliver the best outcomes for the people of Derbyshire.”

Funding for the new team has come from the Government’s IBCF (improved Better Care Fund) and from savings made through vacancy controls.