Social care reforms: less than a year to go
Oxford Computer Consultants supply social care finance software to many local authorities. With the impending October 2023 care reforms set to bring about the biggest changes in a generation, our developers are working tirelessly to ensure that our software is ready – regardless of how many changes are made in government.
Partnering closely with a multitude of local authorities means that we are fortunate enough to see how different local authorities are responding. Interestingly, there are varying approaches and levels of preparation across the sites we are familiar with.
Supporting the trailblazer sites
We are delighted that 3 of our customer sites have been selected as trailblazer sites. They will launch their care reforms changes early in the new year, nearly 10 months ahead of the rest of England.
A version of our updated software for the trailblazers will of course be ready in December. We await the feedback from these early adopters with great anticipation. We will work closely with them to ensure their feedback is incorporated into the main release.
Helping local authorities prepare
At this juncture, we also want to ensure that all sites are as prepared as possible. But not all sites are on an equal footing as they embark on this journey. It is also worth noting that levels of preparedness are not determined just by the finance system in place. In fact, the demographics of an area can make a significant difference to priorities and approaches.
- Where a local authority has not collected information about potential self-funders, they may be surprised by the rise in numbers once the reforms are introduced
- Average property values in an area can impact the number of deferred payment agreements
- The geography (urban/rural) of an area can influence the “fair” cost of care in that location
While we cannot give exhaustive advice to cover every situation, below we have set out ways we believe local authorities can prepare.
Identify any untapped efficiencies from your current software
Explore the full potential of your current system. Software is continually evolving – with new functionality and quality of life improvements being added to systems.
Unless these updates are implemented and made full use of, efficiencies will be left untapped. Given the staff shortages in the industry at present, we recommend setting time aside to look at existing capabilities along with any further “plug and play” functionality available.
Move to self-service as a default
We have looked in depth previously at the benefits of allowing the public to self-serve by default.
It is not just a case of having the systems in place, they also need to be:
- Advertised in your local community
- Promoted internally so that all staff know system capabilities and how to locate them
The latter point is particularly important, given that staff will often be the ones signposting people – whether from a call centre or while out on a home visit.
Naturally, internal staff will also need training along with clear processes setting out how to manage an increase in self-service traffic.
Ensure the correct staffing levels
As a software solutions provider, we sincerely hope that portals and self-service options will alleviate much of the extra work in preparing for the reforms. It is worth pointing out however that dealing with the increase in assessments may also necessitate the recruitment of additional staff.
Discuss how care accounts will be monitored
Questions remain, both for us (and presumably) for other suppliers – over how care accounts are to be monitored. Local authorities need to ensure that these are calculated in line with the guidance. Oxford Computer Consultants are watching carefully for developments in this area, and getting to grips with the technicalities.
Although of course no-one knows with complete certainty how this will be measured. It is worth thinking about how monitoring will be conducted internally. All teams should be confident dealing with each aspect of the care accounts. Discuss what your approach will be to more unusual situations, i.e.
- Changes in the cap
- Citizens moving between authorities
- A citizen reaching their cap
Having these conversations in advance can only be helpful.
Understand your numbers
Gaining a solid understanding of numbers can really help local authorities prepare. The impact of care accounts will differ hugely depending on:
- How many self-funders there are in the area
- The average property values
- Geography within each local authority
Finding out the above information can be key to understanding the potential financial impacts.
At OCC we always want to make sure customers are getting the most out of their system. In addition, we have several self-service applications available to ensure that local authorities are ready for the care reforms. These include:
Whether you are a customer or not, do feel free to get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org – if you would like further advice on anything we have covered in this article.