by Natalie Abraham
Government funding for 18+ domiciliary care and 65+ care is available via the Market Sustainability and Fair Cost of Care Fund, announced at the end of last year. The C.Co team is already working with Local Authorities across the length and breadth of the country to assist them in their applications. With the deadline for fund applications of 14 October fast approaching, Director Ian Kirby explains the need for urgency now when it comes to completing fair cost of care exercises and submitting preliminary Market Sustainability Plans.
How long does it take to carry out a thorough fair cost of care exercise?
Based upon our previous extensive experience of undertaking these exercises, across multiple locations and care types, we always suggest allowing 12 weeks for the completion of a thorough exercise. It’s important to note, of course, that this excludes any time required by individual authorities to get governance sign-off from senior officers and/or Members.
How long do you need to allow for a market sustainability plan?
The preliminary market sustainability plan (MSP) is a maximum of five pages in length and is informed by the cost of care exercises. The quality of the cost of care output could have an impact on the speed of completion of the MSP, but this is still relatively unchartered territory so is hard to gauge precisely how much time will be needed. This is further evidence of the urgency required to progress to this stage at the earliest opportunity.
Every Local Authority is feeling the squeeze at the moment; how can each one best place itself to get a fair share of this new funding?
There are no shortcuts. The only approach to make the case for a fairer share of funding is to ensure the completion and eventual submission of a robust, and, most importantly, local cost of care exercise, with significant engagement with the market, and an informed MSP.
Is the fund application process quite straightforward?
Nationally produced guidance is available for both the domiciliary and residential collection tools and the MSP. The guidance is accessible, comprehensive and relatively easy to understand and follow. These are supplemented by help desk facilities for both technical and operational user queries.
In addition, all the authorities which have chosen C.Co as their cost of care delivery partner, have a dedicated email contact for questions, clarifications and requests for one to one support with a member of our expert team.
Are these applications something a Local Authority should be able to do ‘in-house’?
Local authorities always have the option to undertake the exercise themselves. However, one of the conditions of current year funding is that local authorities can spend up to 25% of their allocation to facilitate them in completing the exercise. So, some authorities, like the ones who have chosen to commission us to support them, have recognised that they don’t have the capacity and/or the expertise to undertake cost of care exercises and so have, legitimately, used some of their funding to access third-party support.
How should providers be involved at this stage?
Active engagement is absolutely vital to get the best possible results. C.Co’s experience in delivering cost of care shows that providers respond to engagement in different ways. C.Co provides a range of support including: a named key contact, written communication, a dedicated local authority-specific email address, face to face workshops sessions and remote engagement using recognised platforms such as Teams and Zoom.
Providers should be aware of the exercises taking place in the areas where they provide care, the type of information they will be required to make available and should also have had an opportunity to ask questions and seek help. Ideally, providers should have commenced the process of completing the cost of care toolkits.
What advice would you give to anyone who hasn’t yet started their fair cost of care fund applications process?
It’s very simple – start now! 14 October is the submission deadline, the end of the process. Successful completion of the cost of care exercises, the analysis and reporting of data and the completion of the MSP take time. Each authority will then have to navigate its own internal governance procedures so there really is no time to waste.