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Predicting the future for carers services

When I agreed to write this blog post, I somewhat naively hoped that by the start of 2015 I would have a clear picture of what the next 12 months might bring for carers services, and that I’d be able to make some predictions about how commissioning is likely to change and develop over the coming year. But the reality is that it’s still too early to determine exactly how the Care Act and the Children and Families Act will be translated into reality and how these and other developments will affect the commissioning landscape.

It reminds me of when Clinical Commissioning Groups first came into existence back in 2012 — or when ‘personalisation’ became a social care buzzword back in 2007 — and we were all waiting to see how these grand ideas would work in practice.

Commissioning2015It seems like there’s always some new guidance, new legislation or new recommendations to interpret, and often by the time we’ve all got our heads around the latest good idea, the next buzzword or priority has entered the frame and everything changes again. So given that we’re all on constantly shifting sands, how can commissioners and service providers plan for the future? How should they prioritise with what seems to be increasingly limited funding? And what will the next buzzword or zeitgeist be?

Sadly I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can offer a few suggestions of where commissioners and service developers might focus their attentions in the coming months. Think of these as my personal buzzwords that I’ve gathered based on what has worked well for commissioners and service providers in the past: carer involvement, partnership working, holistic approach and evidence of impact.

Having spent the last few years looking for examples of good practice for the Carers Hub website, I found that all of the innovative projects had the above four factors in common. Most importantly, the successful services developed directly in response to the needs and wishes of local carers. So it’s clear that consulting with carers is key to commissioning and delivering services that actually work. Secondly, it’s apparent that services of all kinds tend to be more successful when they are based on solid partnership working between a number of agencies and providers, rather than working in isolation. Thirdly, successful services tend to take a holistic approach, thinking about the whole person and linking to additional support, as well as taking a whole family approach where applicable. And finally, success is more likely when a project has clear methods in place for gathering evidence of impact from the outset, which is particularly crucial given the current funding environment and the need to demonstrate clear outcomes in relation to the latest commissioning priorities.

I wish I could predict exactly how carers services will evolve in the year ahead and what the next developments will be, but perhaps if commissioners and service providers focus on consulting with carers, working in partnership, taking a holistic approach and gathering evidence as they go, then they should be well placed to meet current and future legislative requirements, whatever these happen to be.

For a UK-wide overview of legislation relating to carers (including the Care Act and the Children and Families Act), visit https://professionals.carers.org/law-carers

And for a more in-depth look at how commissioners can ensure the best outcomes for carers, visit NHS England’s guide to Commissioning for Carers: http://www.england.nhs.uk/commissioning/comm-carers/


Gigi Burgdorf is Carers Hub Development Manager at Carers Trust


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January 20, 2015 - Posted by | Commissioning | , , ,

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