A new way of working with care providers, which has seen service improvement and a £1.9 million saving, has been approved by Medway Council’s Cabinet.

The approach used to award new suppliers for the council’s homecare and extra care services for adult social care clients was a pilot of the new Category Management approach to procurement.

The pilot saw category management and adult social care teams working together to recommission the homecare service and deliver better for less.
The homecare service allows vulnerable people to live in their own home for as long as possible, and the council needed to reduce the spend on this service, which was £12million last year (2011-2012).

These ambitions were achieved by holding preliminary talks with providers about reducing their rates prior to this procurement exercise and suppliers were constructive and reduced their rates. This resulted in an immediate £600,000 saving.
The homecare service was then the subject of a strategic sourcing plan with Adult Social Care working closely with the council’s new Category Management Team – which procures services across the whole council – to develop a new charging mechanism to encourage a continuation of lower rates and improvements in the quality of services delivered.

This procurement exercise has resulted in more suppliers entering the market, more choice for customers and a better quality of service at a better price.
The £1.9 million savings forecast by this scheme is helping the council achieve better use of public money and safeguards this essential service.

The council’s new Category Management concept has proved to be a successful model.
Medway Council Portfolio Holder for Older People Cllr David Brake said: “I am delighted to report that the council came up with a new way of working with care providers, which encourages continuous improvement that will be reviewed every six months. This innovative approach means more choice for customers and this is with an estimated saving of up to £1.9 million.

“The procurement exercise lead by the new Category Management team in partnership with Adult Social Care brought more suppliers into the market so that Medway will now be working with providers who are rated as either Gold, Silver or Bronze based on their ability to deliver high quality services at an affordable price.
“I am proud to say that from December we will have 20 providers delivering better value better quality homecare services.”

Medway Council Portfolio Holder for Finance Cllr Alan Jarrett said: “Officers in the Category Management team and in the Adult Social Care service worked together to find a truly innovative solution to the challenge of reducing our spend while improving this vital service.

“The estimated savings of up to £1.9 million assists the council’s overall budgetary situation and shows that quality does not have to be sacrificed when delivering savings.

“I believe that the successful delivery of this project goes a long way to proving the concept of Category Management and I look forward to this new way of working becoming business as usual for the council. I think it is one of the keys to enabling us to continue to navigate through these financially challenging times.