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Issue details

Contract for Additional social workers for Care Act and Carers assessments

In December 2023, following a request from the Executive Director: Adults and Communities, the Local Government Association (LGA) undertook an Adult Social Care (ASC) ‘preparation for CQC assurance’ Peer Review for Bristol City Council (BCC), which involved BCC, system partners and stakeholders. The review provided an external view from a team of peers about the experience of people receiving support from BCC ASC. The peer team’s work was specifically focused on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection framework.
The report and feedback presented by the review team was focused in on 18 key messages and highlighted a number of areas for improvement. They also praised the work being done on ASC transformation, commissioning and the work started on co-production. They reported a number of areas of good practice, however, they also raised the issue of the length of time people wait for a Care Act assessment, which aligned with early review work led by our new operations director, which had highlighted considerable pressure in locality teams.
A primary focus during the review therefore was on waiting times for new (previously unassessed) individuals in need of care and support. To prepare for the upcoming CQC inspection, short- and medium-term remedial actions have been put into place. However, in addition to this work going on within the locality teams, it is recognised that some additional Social Work capacity is urgently needed to reduce waiting lists.
In order to put in place the required additional capacity, a contract will be commissioned through the Council’s procurement partner Constellia. The Council will enter a contract for a ‘batch’ of assessments to be completed as opposed to recruiting agency social workers through Guidant which is proving very different. Social workers are currently very difficult to recruit and bring onto our locality teams even as agency workers. Initial recruitment through this route is just to try and get back to full establishment across the teams while this request is to provide additional capacity quickly to target the waiting lists. (There is currently a review of our pay scales for social workers across Children’s and Adults.) The quality of the work will be signed off and overseen by a Principal Social Worker (PSW). The contract will be set up on the basis of payment by results, i.e. completion of each assessment and initial review. This methodology has already been used to good effect to reduce reviews pending.
This commission will build upon the existing arrangement that ASC has (through Constellia) with Liquid Personnel (a specialist recruitment consultancy covering social work, healthcare, criminal justice and special educational needs). Procurement advice has been sought. Agency workers are ideally required to commence from 1 April or as soon after as is practically possible. ASC must demonstrate a timely response to securing extra capacity to start to address the waiting lists from the start of the new financial year. Having highlighted this as a priority issue, ASC want to be able to take prompt action to address it.

Decision type: Key

Reason Key: Result in expenditure of £500,000 or over;

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Notice of proposed decision first published: 25/03/2024

Decision due: 15 Mar 2024 by Executive Director: Adult & Communities

Lead member: Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Adult Social Care and Integrated Care System

Contact: Hugh Evans, Executive Director: Adult and Communities Email: