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Dorset Council applies GIS to optimising home care

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Dorset Council has highlighted the role of interactive digital maps in a successful trial of an approach to optimise home care around the county.

It has used the maps in a pilot project in which it worked with the Dorset Care Association, Home Care Forum and providers to reduce the average waiting time for a care package from 28 to 4.5 days.

A council spokesperson said the pilot, which began in January, is now complete and that it is working on improving the process and zonal optimisation, aiming for it to become ‘business as usual’ early next year.

The GIS mapping – which the council developed with technical partners – provides a visual representation of all existing care packages, those met by providers who do not have a contract with the council and waiting list demand. It enabled providers to see which packages they currently support that are not efficient and agree swaps with more suitable providers.

Other technology elements include mapping workflow in Mosaic to reduce manual steps and reduce admin time, a new referral form to provide more consistent and complete information to care providers, and solutions for virtual care as part of hybrid packages.

Identifying demand

This has made it possible to identify home care requirements and how much of the demand has been met by a provider, both broken down by postcode, along with the demand met through recovery focused services and ‘off-framework’ providers that do not normally do business with the local authority.

The spokesperson said it has enabled the council to move 72% of off-framework packages across two zones, providing savings of around £150,000 per year, and to convince off-framework providers to take on contracts.

In addition, the waiting list was cleared in the trial zone and all of the delegated reviewers were completed to good standards with a net reduction of care hours.

Cllr Jane Somper, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for adult social care, housing and health, said the project had provided benefits for residents, providers and the local authority.

“The needs of residents are being met quickly and efficiently and the project has cut the risk of late visits, providing people with surety and a greater degree of independence,” she said.

Better decisions

Anna Knight, Dorset Care Association development lead, added: " I have been regularly updated with data and have also been able to understand the approach, the reasoning and the autonomy that it is able to give to providers to make appropriate and safe decisions relating to the delivery of hours to clients.

“This is a really positive and joined up way of working and it is clear that Dorset Council and the providers are on a new and improved journey in approaches, listening and involvement.”

The council indicated that it is developing a learning module and processes to be applied from next year, plans to expand the process geographically and work with care providers using GIS to plan capacity and possible collective efficiencies. The latter could be relevant to activities such as transport and night cover.

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