England & Wales Health and social care, Housing and planning

Going for gold in home care commissioning


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Time should matter for athletes, not care workers, says Abigail Lock, Head of External Relations for social care provider Mears

What do Mo Farah and your average care worker have in common? Answer: both are assessed on their speed. While speed is vital for an Olympic athlete surely we should be paying our care providers on the quality of care they deliver and not on whether they can get care workers in and out of a person’s home in fifteen minutes.

Having grown up as a child carer for my father who had Multiple Sclerosis and received twice daily visits from care workers it often felt like we were part of a ‘conveyor belt of care’ just another family on the assembly line. Sadly fifteen years on and despite all the talk of personalisation too little has changed and little will so long as we continue to pay those delivering care on a task and time basis .

Paying providers on this basis does nothing to promote the dignity of the individual requiring support, restricts a personalised approach – (after all what one provider can deliver in fifteen minutes is often the same as what another provider can deliver in the same time) piles the pressure onto care workers and does nothing to incentivise prevention. In fact, in many cases the system is paying for failure. If someone in receipt of care deteriorates the care provider is rewarded with more hours. This cannot continue.

Mears have worked with LGIU to develop ‘Outcomes Matter; effective commissioning in domiciliary care.’ ‘Outcomes Matter’ highlights the challenges and opportunities faced by commissioners and provides a commissioning checklist. After all, why should it matter if a service is delivered in ten minutes or ten hours?
Let’s tear up contracts based on task and time and pay our care providers on whether they have reduced hospital admissions, prevented falls and enabled independence.

By working together and rethinking how we commission care services we can do more with less and drive up the quality of our care services – and let’s leave the time trials for our athletes.

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About Mears

Mears is the leading social housing repairs and maintenance provider in the UK and a major presence in the domiciliary care market – bringing the highest standards of care to people and their homes. Partnering with clients, 13,000 Mears Group employees maintain, repair and upgrade people’s homes, care for individuals and work in communities across the country – from inner city estates to remote rural villages.