Derbyshire Adult Care Brokerage Service - Derbyshire County Council

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Project description

The Adult Care Brokerage Service exists to help people who use services exercise choice and control, by helping them find the services they need. It also assists in identifying gaps in the market for care services in Derbyshire, and shares this intelligence with providers to support growth in the sector.

The Brokerage Service has been in operation since early 2010 and has developed incrementally, gradually extending the number and types of referrals it receives. It now operates an 'open' referral system, and there are no costs to clients to access the service.

It is delivered by a team of six full-time and two part-time workers. The team receives a wide range of enquiries from users. Around 70 per cent of enquiries are for homecare packages, while the remainder are for care homes, day opportunities, self-funded support and a range of other things unique to people's particular needs and circumstances.

Who is the service for?

The service is open to all adults in Derbyshire, not just those who have been assessed by the Adult Care and allocated a personal budget for social care. It is also used by people who are funding their own care, and is available for anyone in the county who is looking for non-statutory preventive services. The number of universal offer and self-funding referrals is growing rapidly.

Intended outcomes

Brokerage aims to support people to find the services they need, by enabling them to understand what exists in their area and what their options are. It also aims to promote a level playing field for service providers in Derbyshire.

The purpose of the brokerage team is to support individuals to find personalised services that meet their needs, by the requested start date, having given a choice and information about available providers.

The team aims to start work on each new referral within two working hours, collate responses for homecare enquiries within one working day, and identify services immediately in the case of urgent requests. Brokers then make follow-up calls to clients approximately two weeks after the service has started.

Why is the service being developed?

The service was introduced in response to the development of personal budgets and self-directed support. Adult Care recognised that clients needed more information about care options, as well as support to help them find bespoke services in the community.

Were the people who use services and carers and other key stakeholders involved in setting up this service?

A range of service users were involved in helping develop the Brokerage Service. Local statutory and voluntary organisations were also involved.

The development of the service was overseen by a 'personalising social care in Derbyshire' programme board, which included people who use services and carers and invited their views. These views were then incorporated, as appropriate, into the development of the service.

The team has also developed template forms based on comments and 'frequently asked questions' about provision. (For example, the broker enquiry form sent to homecare providers has questions that are designed to elicit information from providers that enquirers are most commonly interested in.) Those aspects of the service that people commented on favourably were enhanced and judged to be a priority. (For example, how quickly brokers responded.) Additionally, enquirers were asked during telephone calls about other methods of accessing the service, which led to brokers routinely asking people if they wished to have contact by email.

Brokers make routine follow-up calls to enquirers to gather feedback both about the Brokerage Service itself and about the services that clients have been assisted to find and use.

Has the service met the intended outcomes?

Referrals to the Brokerage Service have increased steadily over the three years it has been in operation. The service has so far supported more than 10,000 people in Derbyshire.

Feedback from clients has been positive, with people commenting favourably on the process, the quick turnaround and the personalised approach that brokers take. Providers have also responded positively.

The service has also relieved pressure on social workers, releasing some aspects of care management and enabling them to concentrate on case work, assessment and support planning activities.

Where people haven't been satisfied, it is often because there are shortages of the particular services they need in the area where they live. These gaps are slowly being filled as new services are commissioned.

Do you have information on costs or savings?

There is currently no specific information on savings. However, an initial time and motion study of care management activities carried out before the Brokerage Service was established calculated that the equivalent of 34.5 care managers (full-time equivalent) would be needed to manage this work if it were not carried out by specialist brokers. In reality, the seven brokers manage a higher number and broader range of referrals, and offer more choice. This is one of the added value aspects of the service. In addition, they are salaried at a lower grade than care managers and social workers.

What were the learning points in setting up this service?

The service highlighted the limitations of existing directories and electronic databases, which did not contain all the information that brokers need, such as cost information and detailed capacity data. This led to the creation of new, separate spreadsheets, which do not always sit neatly with existing resources.

Contact details

Sara Topham
Service Manager, Derbyshire County Council