Budget & Care Cap Account - what next following delay to Reforms
As you are aware, over the past several months Looking Local has been working with councils (via a co-funded project effected by CC2i) to understand the challenge of delivering care cap metering according to the Adult Social Care Charging Reform, and develop solutions to help councils meet these obligations in an operationally efficient and user-centred way.
This is a complex area, both legislatively and operationally, but the key jigsaw pieces are processes and systems relating to:
- Care Needs assessments
- Care Finance assessments
- Direct payments
- Procurement and delivery of care packages
- Recovery of costs from service users up to assessed contribution limits
All of this applies across multiple care types, and with significant variance in charging policies and application of these policies between councils (which poses a common challenge to all technology suppliers in the market).
The proposed reforms would have not only introduced new obligations (to meter service user eligible financial contributions, report them through IPBs and PBs, manage the transitioning of service users as they approach and arrive at the cap, and administer transfers of service users to and from other councils), but also substantially increased assessment workloads due to the large number of new service users falling under the scope of the new legislation.
Whilst the announcement last week of delays to the introduction of legislated reform has simplified the short-term picture, this process of collaborative exploration and product development has shone a spotlight on various stresses and deficiencies within the systems and processes used to support current case loads, and we believe there is scope for us to both meet these short term challenges (with innovation supported by technology) and to lay the foundation for whatever reforms come down the road in the medium term.
The need to provide visibility of an individual’s progress towards their care cap is no longer immediately needed. However, the discovery phase identified other challenges which exist currently and which remain relevant even without the reforms landing. By anticipating a change in direction we focused on these elements first.
We have developed the capability to generate consistent and transparent Budgets on the back of a BetterCare Support assessment (or indeed a more traditional professional led in person assessment) and are working to enable a collaborative and agile interface between council and service user in the planning and delivery of their care package.
The current mechanisms for producing the Budget are either:
- resource intensive to ensure an accurate granular figure,
- too broad and clumsy using RAS systems.
Our solution allows for a broad set of services that a service user may require to be set against hyper local costs. ‘Overwrites’ are also permitted where actual costs don’t match for whatever reason.
The intention is to publish the Budget to the individual’s account so they can collaborate on its production. This also provides transparency over how their Budget or direct payments have been produced and starts to encourage a movement towards genuine digital self service.
It’s normal to expect some adjustments, particularly in the first few weeks of a care plan being in place as the care settles in, but also change is needed along an individual’s entire journey. The account provides facility for the service user to request adjustments to their budget at any time not just during scheduled reviews.
We are expecting this more automated, collaborative and transparent approach to significantly increase accuracy and fairness into the process of producing Budgets, as well as provide a route through which service users can be more influential in the services they receive. Ultimately it’s about delivering efficiencies into the budget production process, whilst improving the outcomes for service users.
We look forward to demonstrating the progress we have made on this.