The Committee considered a report of the Director of Adults and Communities which provided an update on progress made on the procurement of home care services following notifications to award. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 8’, is filed with these minutes.
Arising from discussion the following points were made:
(i) In response to a question raised, the Director clarified that in accordance with normal practice and due to legal restrictions around information sharing and the need to retain commercial confidentiality it had not been possible for the outcome of the tendering exercise to be brought to the Committee before the process was complete. The Committee was reminded that it had received a report before the tender process began which set out the Council’s expectations for the exercise and which the Committee had supported.
(ii) Members questioned what the Department’s contingency plans were if providers in the zones with the lowest levels of coverage were unable to take on extra work if required. It was confirmed that, in this event, approaching providers outside of these zones may need to be considered. The zones with the lowest levels of coverage were those areas where it had previously been difficult to secure providers. The new rates reflected differences in the cost for care between rural and urban areas. However, based on the information provided by the contracted providers during the tender process the Director provided assurance that there was general confidence that coverage levels across the County would be sufficient, though the situation would be monitored over time. Members were pleased to note that conditions had also been factored into the new Framework that allowed the Council to consider inviting new bids should this be required in future.
(iii) Members were reassured that ensuring care providers had adequate levels of staffing to meet service requirements was a key priority. Conversations between the Department and providers to manage sector wide issues around the recruitment and retention of staff were ongoing. In the case of long-term recruitment issues, the Department’s Inspired to Care team would also continue to offer specific support to providers. In the event that a provider failed to maintain sufficient workforce levels leading them to withdraw from the Framework, other providers would be asked to cover. However, the potential to re-open the Framework in later months to invite new bids would mitigate the risks arising from such an event.
(iv) In response to a member’s comments around ensuring a smooth transition between the current and new framework, assurance was provided that resources had been dedicated to managing this process which it was acknowledged would be significant given the large number of providers involved. The Director confirmed that the Department would be working closely with all current and exiting providers to minimise any disruption for those in receipt of care. This would include conversations with some providers that had not met all of the criteria to join the new Framework that the Council was likely to continue working with for people currently supported. For example, to enable contracts to be extended where appropriate over the transition period, or to support exiting providers wanting to continue to work with the Council to meet the requirements to join the new Framework imminently or at a later stage.
(v) The Committee requested that a further report be provided at a future meeting to give an update following the transition from the current to the new Home Care for Leicestershire framework to ensure the implementation of the new service had progressed as planned.
(a) That the update regarding the Commissioning and Procurement of Home Care Services be noted.
(b) That a further report be provided at a future meeting following the implementation of the new Home Care for Leicestershire framework.