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Supporting Milton Keynes Council’s home care services by improving payment processing, care response timings and provider marketplace provision

18 January 2022

Supporting Milton Keynes Council’s home care services by improving payment processing, care response timings and provider marketplace provision

adam are proud to have partnered with our local council, who we have developed numerous solutions for. In this case study, we explore the various challenges that Milton Keynes Council faced in home care, and how the adam solution was able to resolve these.

In 2017, Milton Keynes Council (MKC) partnered with adam to launch a solution for managing the council’s home-to-school transport provision; the aim was to improve service standards and make meaningful financial savings for the council. The project was a big success and demonstrated quick, measurable results.This led MKC to expand their relationship with adam into other areas of the council’s service, including using the adam solution to manage home care activity within Adult Social Services.

‘Milton Keynes Council have worked with adam for a number of years, principally in relation to home to school transport, home care and housing. We have developed a very effective relationship. From the start of the project through to its delivery, there has been excellent engagement. The project management processes, when developing each of the three approaches, have been very well structured, collaborative and importantly built on lessons learnt. We have found adam to be flexible in their approach and very receptive to ongoing support, and where needs be adaptation of the product. The Council has seen the benefits of adam in relation to the efficient processes we now have in the three areas we employ The Council has seen the benefits of adam in relation to the efficient processes we now have in the three areas we employ the system, and also in the cost savings this has delivered’ - Mick Hancock, Group Head of Commissioning, Milton Keynes Council

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Supporting Milton Keynes Council’s home care services by improving payment processing, care response timings and provider marketplace provision

Project objectives

The council’s aims were clear: MKC wanted to resolve key challenges faced by their brokerage team, from supplier onboarding to billing
and contract management. MKC’s primary goals included:

  • Strengthening the provider market by growing the number of home care agencies available. Therefore, the council would no longer need to rely on a small pool of providers to deliver care
  • Improving compliance in the provider market by creating a fair, transparent, consistent process and ensuring the terms of service specification were closely followed by all parties
  • Improving access to market share data to help regulate and sustain the market in the long term
  • Streamlining the provider payments process by developing a connected and automated invoice solution
  • Taking advantage of technology to save staff much-needed time by having all communication and commissioning activity in one place

The initial challenge

With an ever-growing population and rising cost of care, MKC were struggling with reduced capacity as well as an increasing demand for home care. The workforce crisis within social care was also adding a strain on the service, and the challenges were aggravated further by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before partnering with adam, MKC was working on a closed framework with nine home care agencies. This system was failing due to its rigid structure, limited number of suppliers and lack of flexibility when responding to urgent care demands.

It was often hard to secure care from framework providers, and so the council resorted to spot purchase agencies who could fill in the gaps. However, these were difficult to regulate and manage – it was taking the council more resource to ensure they were held to the same standard and this made it difficult to provide a fair level of care across the community. There was also no contractual binding in place to ensure quality and reliability, compared to the framework providers. This led to a significant manual input from the brokerage team, placing them under even more pressure to deliver care for residents of Milton Keynes.

Growing the provider base to increase access to care

Using the adam solution, MKC could eliminate the need for spot purchasing and ensure all providers were held to the same high standards, with compliance and regulation checks consistent across the board. As an open framework, any providers wishing to work with the council, could (and still can) join at any time. For MKC, this has led to a huge increase in approved home care agencies from nine to 44 compliant agencies.

This has given the brokerage team more flexibility when sourcing care for the community. On average, the team now have between three to four compliant home care offering their services for a care package, meaning the council can better meet the needs of those requiring support.

In turn, the increased market competition has future-proofed home care commissioning and improved the overall quality of care delivered.

Financial savings were never a key driver for MKC, and yet the adam solution lowered the average cost of care packages by 3%, projecting meaningful savings for the future and stabilising market fees.

Guaranteeing compliance

The adam solution automatically suspends any care providers from the system if their insurance has expired or CQC registration needs updating. The platform also notifies both parties (the provider and the council) one month prior to any documentation expiring - ensuring the provider market is always fully compliant and delivering the same standard of care.

Less admin, better communication

Using adam technology, MKC can communicate care package requirements to providers in a consistent manner – all in one place. Not only does this create a clear audit trail, but it has also resulted in home care agencies responding quicker. In the first half of 2021, MKC was receiving offers in just four hours, allowing the team to react faster and deliver care to those in need. Previously, it could take much longer for a response from care providers; now, with the adam solution, all of this (including confirmation of work) can be completed within the same day.

Aligning the audit trail and managing payment

Previously, any changes to the agreed care packages, such as an additional hour of work, were manually dealt with (over the phone or via email) by the provider and brokerage team, before being signed off by a council panel. This made auditing timesheets difficult; with the finance team spending
unnecessary time investigating invoice discrepancies which often delayed payments.

The adam solution manages all communication and changes between parties in one place, ensuring a clear audit trail and a more streamlined payment process.On a weekly basis, the adam system automatically calculates all changes entered and updates them in line with the final submitted timesheets - flagging any incorrect amounts for manual approval. All the weekly timesheet receipts are then combined into one manageable invoice for MKC to pay the providers. Each provider also receives a weekly bill to audit all payments received from the council.

Finally, MKC were able to reduce the payment terms down from 28 days to 18, helping providers manage their cashflow and, in turn, improve
the relationships between the council and the provider market.

Summary

By partnering with adam, MKC has been able to reach their goals, including:

  • Manage the home care service on a system with bespoke configuration that addressed their business needs
  • Capture meaningful data and market insight, allowing the council to improve provider relationships, expand their care networks and to better understand provider performance, compliance and ranking
  • Increase the number of available care providers and improve their management of compliance and perform
  • Create competition and choice within the market while ensuring high-quality care is delivered at an affordable price
  • Streamline the invoicing and payments across all providers, improving the internal processes, and creating clear audit trails of activity
  • The way in which Milton Keynes Council implemented adam is a prime example of how adaptable and resilient the system is. The adam offering is a managed service whereby we take responsibility for ensuring our clients’ visions and goals are achieved.

Find out how your council can improve managed home care services by growing your provider marketplace and streamlining procurement process to provide faster provisions for urgent care placements.

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