The importance of more effective collaboration with the third sector

The Feeley report “Independent Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland”, published in February 2021, proposes radical changes in the way adult social care is delivered. It recommends the continuation of a ‘mixed economy’ delivery model, underpinned by a new “National Care Service” that addresses gaps in provision including data, research and IT.

The proposed National Care Service would have equal parity with the NHS, including the principle of care being provided free at the point of delivery (excluding care homes). One of the reasons the report recommends the continuance of a mixed economy model rather that nationalisation or privatisation is that: “The evidence suggests that nationalisation would not in and of itself improve outcomes for people using care. Care Inspectorate data indicates that, when it comes to community based services, quality is generally highest among third sector providers.” 

The combination of the third sector providing demonstrably higher quality outcomes, coupled with more cost effective delivery, must make enhancing the capability of the sector a critical aspect of any future plans. Making this happen will require consideration of how to make the third sector even more efficient and effective. One obvious area for attention is integrating systems to allow enhanced levels of collaboration between the third, public and private sectors.

SICCAR has been involved in work that facilitates collaboration – addressing one of the Feeley report’s key recommendations:

The Scottish Government should carefully consider its policies, for example on discharge arrangements for people leaving hospital, to ensure they support its long held aim of assisting people to stay in their own communities for as long as possible.” 

Our work involved taking a systematic approach to linking hospital discharge units with a third sector organisation to reduce delayed discharges from hospital while also helping elderly people to live well at home.  Our approach is described in this two minute video.  

The generic aspect of this work is the ability to make referrals between organisations that inhabit different legal and IT domains.  In the example above that’s between the NHS and the voluntary sector.  But there is a need to operationalise and track the value of referrals within the voluntary sector itself and to include Local Authority-provided care, as well as the NHS, in a digital ‘trust network’.  

The goal must be a fully integrated mixed economy network of care providers capable of meeting people’s adult social care needs within budgets which will be necessarily constrained. SICCAR is carrying on our work on how best to achieve such referrals, including research on emerging UK data standards, that allow third sector organisations to articulate the services they can offer in a consist way.

One of the final recommendations in the report is the need that:

Commissioning decisions should encourage the development of mutually-supportive provider networks as described above, rather than inhibiting co-operation by encouraging fruitless competition.

SICCAR is ready to provide any new National Care Service with the national digital infrastructure required to develop mutually-supportive provider networks.  

Author: Rab Campbell

Director, SICCAR


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