Essex County Council: Unlocking opportunities to provide better support to vulnerable people through care technology

Innovative technology helps vulnerable people live safely in their own homes. This case study details the work PA undertook to support the Council in transforming the lives of 2,800 vulnerable people.
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By PA Consulting

09 Aug 2021

Innovative technology helps vulnerable people live safely in their own homes. It's also a cost-efficient solution for Councils aiming to deliver high-quality support within tight budgets. But at Essex County Council in the UK, limited understanding of how care technology can transform users' lives meant take-up of services was low. They called on PA for support. We knew we needed to drive a shift in mindset and put care technology solutions at the forefront of the Council's social care offer. Working through our Argenti partnership, our innovative approach to technology-enabled care, we delivered an end-to-end care service for three years in one part of the county.

We drew on a track record in delivery of care technology services, wide experience of supporting public-sector organisations, and expertise in disciplines such as culture change, operational improvement and business intelligence. Over the three-year period, we increased care professionals referring patients to the service by 150 per cent, delivered financial benefits worth more than £6.5 million and garnered 99 per cent positive feedback from service users. We've also enabled Essex County Council to transform the lives of some 2,800 vulnerable people.

Key Successes:

  • Applied an innovative approach to technology-enabled care to unlock opportunities to better support vulnerable residents
  • Enabled the Council to support significantly more residents and to avoid some of the escalating costs of funding long-term care
  • Changed attitudes to care technology solutions among social care professionals to drive a 150 per cent increase in referrals
  • Provided the tools to track quality-of-life improvements and financial benefits to make the case for investing in service expansion

Unlocking the full potential of care technology

Care technology is life-changing for vulnerable people, providing the support and reassurance they need to live independently at home. There are important advantages for councils too, who work hard to deliver high-quality adult social care services within tight budgets. Care technology – which includes devices such as personal alarms, fall detectors, GPS trackers, robotic medication dispensers, use of consumer devices and apps in a care setting – can provide a cost-effective (and less intrusive) alternative to daily visits by care staff, delay the need for expensive residential care and allow people to rely less on family carers.

With little experience of how care technology can transform lives, many social workers were reluctant to refer clients for the service.

Like other councils, Essex County Council had been running a care technology service for many years, but was finding it difficult to increase take-up and realise the full benefits. Attitudes to care technology were part of the problem. With little experience of how care technology can transform lives, many social workers were reluctant to refer clients for the service.

A fragmented approach to commissioning along with mismatched charging models within the county were also preventing the Council from unlocking the full potential of care technology. In addition, the Council had no system in place for tracking the financial benefits, making it impossible to build the case for investing in expansion.

A fresh approach was needed. So, over three years, PA worked with the Council to trial, and then continuously improve, a new service delivery model. This pathfinder programme, which covered one quadrant of Essex, was designed to assess the potential for roll-out county-wide. Under the programme, we ran an innovative end-to-end care technology service on behalf of the Council over a three-year period.

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