How introductory services can support local authorities and the NHS
My brother Daniel and I created SuperCarers.com in 2015 to build a care company that did things differently. We wanted to create a service and platform with the needs of families and care workers at our heart.
We use technology to match clients and care workers directly, with carers earning the majority of what their client pays. We do not manage or direct the care, like a traditional agency, and instead build digital tools that enable families and care workers to manage the care directly.
Our model is known as an introductory and brokerage model in accordance with the Health and Social Care Act of 2008. The government decided that such models should be outside of the scope of regulation, and traditional domiciliary care businesses were to be regulated by the CQC.
Since 2008, the world has changed considerably. There are two trends worth noting:
- Central government has reduced the amount of public money going to local authorities, at the same time as demand for services is increasing. Cash-strapped local authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to find domiciliary care agencies to support service users, as the costs of providing care are rising faster than the price local authorities are prepared to pay;
- Technology has transformed many industries — from hotels, to transport, to banking — and regulators and policy makers have struggled to keep pace.
Online platforms, such as SuperCarers, have enormous potential to help local authorities meet the needs of their service users within their budget constraints. Either they embrace new models, or they will have to continue rationing services. And, with the delay of the social care green paper, no more money is coming any time soon.
Structural barriers and restrictions
SuperCarers’ platform has built a trusted peer-to-peer care network online, akin to the Personal Assistant (PA) marketplaces that local authorities have long sought to encourage.
However, there is a barrier preventing new models being adopted by every single local authority — the existence of a robust framework for auditing the safety and quality of services. The legislation, such as the Care Act (see fact sheet here) emphasises the importance of personal choice and control. However, commissioners often insist that service users can only access services regulated by the CQC, preventing transformative services benefiting users. From my time at the Cabinet Office and Treasury, the intent of a policy can often look very different in practice.
A new compliance framework for introductory models
Today, I am pleased to share that SuperCarers is working with experts across health and social care to create a new Quality and Compliance Framework for introductory models. On a quarterly basis, this framework will be used to audit our operations, and we plan to publish each report and our actions.
In addition to the benefits of our platform, we hope this will enable local authorities to “buy with confidence” and engender trust in alternative models such as ours.
We understand the CQC has a clear scope defined by statute, and so does not have the resource or remit to add new models to the current regulation. However, we hope that the CQC will support and endorse this framework. There will be huge benefits in doing so:
- Measure the effectiveness, safety and quality of introductory services, already being used by the public;
- Help local authorities and CCGs to access a broader range of services, as they are currently limited by the capacity of traditional local care agencies. This will help accelerate the discharge of elderly patients from hospital, as well as keeping them cared for in the community.
We will make the framework available to other introductory models in the market, helping the best ones to benchmark the quality of their services.
I am leading this work in partnership with Alan Rosenbach, Chair of our Care Advisory Board and the former Strategy Director of the CQC.
We would be delighted for other health and social care professionals, client groups and carer groups to get involved.
If you’re interested in finding out more, email email@example.com