The adult social care team at Brighton & Hove City Council, in collaboration with Peopletoo, has designed a new interim assessment and support planning framework in response to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
The new framework supports quick and effective professional decision making during the crisis, in line with the Coronavirus Act and guidance and ethical framework.
The passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020 enables councils to use Care Act easements to ensure the best possible care for people in our society during this exceptional period.
It is intended to enable councils to prioritise resources if they can’t meet their statutory duties in full due to demand spikes and /or staffing shortages as the COVID-19 pandemic reaches its peak.
With many local authorities struggling to meet demand prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, whilst unthinkable under normal circumstances, it is likely that the easements will need to be enacted in some, if not all areas.
This challenge of re-designing well-established processes and infrastructures for assessment, care and support planning and approval of packages to enable such prioritisation of resource is even more challenging with the additional pressures of dealing with lack of staffing capacity, remote working and senior management teams responding to a rapidly changing situation.
Some of the key challenges for councils include:
- Keeping abreast of the guidance and implications whilst retaining a focus on current operational delivery
- Developing local thresholds and processes for enacting the varying stages of easement and ensuring that these are communicated and agreed by all concerned
- Developing a framework against which to prioritise care and support and mitigate risk. A consistent approach to RAG rating is vital under the current circumstances of social isolation and shielding
- Ensuring recording and evidencing of decision making is consistent and decisions are evidence based
- Ensuring the impact of any changes to care and support during the period are understood and can be quickly reviewed post crisis.
The new Brighton & Hove /Peopletoo framework facilitates rapid, effective and evidence-based decision making to prioritise deployment of resources to those with the highest level of need, while ensuring that all citizens in need are safe and well.
It will enable the council to evidence and justify decisions made during the crisis period and track, monitor and manage any risk.
The framework combines key principles for practice with tools to support implementation and guidance for staff. These tools include:
- A triage assessment document
- A support planning tool that captures critical needs and unmet needs
- A risk assessment tool which provides a RAG risk for each case, according to the criteria set out in the framework
- Guidance for staff on recording standards and professional analysis to justify decision making
The framework provides local thresholds for activation of any easements under the Coronavirus Act and a methodology for assessing the evidence and making decisions on the service’s ability to meet statutory duties.
It contains a revised scheme of delegation, with contingencies to account for expected reductions in management capacity due to sickness absence.
It offers an action plan to support implementation of the framework and identification of the resources required.
The support framework also provides a communication strategy and plan to disseminate the changes, including public facing communication.
Kirsty Jordan is services director at Peopletoo and Richard Cattell is principal social worker at Brighton & Hove City Council
At Peopletoo we understand the challenges for councils and the need for capacity to interpret required changes, translate it into an action plan and track the implementation so that staff within Social Care can keep their focus on delivering services and meeting needs. We are delighted to have been a trusted partner in the delivery of this for Brighton and Hove and would be keen to support other Councils and help ensure that resources remain focused where they are needed most- Kirsty Jordan, Services Director