The adult care sector is one of the most affected when it comes to the labour shortage currently sweeping the public sector. 71% of local authorities are struggling to recruit adult social care workers and at the end of 2022 there were 165,000 open vacancies – up 55,000 since 2020/2021.
Instead of plugging the gap relying solely on a traditional temp agency approach, many local authorities are turning to a Statement of Work approach to achieve desired outcomes in adult care, meeting the needs of vulnerable people living in their region that rely on their support.
What is a Statement of Work?
Statement of Work (SOW) is a document used to define and manage project tasks and activities, and to control a project’s deliverables, milestones, and deadlines. An SOW document lays out what will be done, who will do it, and how and when they will be paid for this work. This has become the go-to way to resource projects that have a clear beginning, middle, and end, with measurable deliverables.
There are three standard kinds of SOW. Basic SOW, which states the amount of time that should be spent on the project and the costs that will be expected to deliver the required outcome. It does not specify how individual tasks should be completed. A detailed SOW, which defines a specific outcome for completing each task. The organisation that is buying the service prescribes project outcomes, which are measured and controlled by both time and cost.
Then there is performance-based SOW, which specifies detailed project outcomes. This is the most used type of Statement of Work since it defines project objectives and milestone goals based on time, cost and quality.
How can a SOW be used in adult care?
It might be difficult to see how to see there could be ‘a beginning, a middle, and an end’ with adult care, and what measurable deliverables would look like when caring for a patient. Surely caring for people is an ongoing process?
- There are actually quite a few instances where there are a set number of tasks to be carried out where outcomes can be measurable. Here are a few hypothetical examples:
A quota of assessments for onward care for patients waiting to be discharged from hospital: There is a backlog of patients that need assessing before they are able to leave the hospital, meaning beds are being ‘blocked’ with patients that could be recovering at home, but healthcare managers need to be sure that they have the necessary care in place to be able to do so safely.
These assessments could be outsourced in blocks, for example a Statement of Work for 100 patients. This is a very measurable outcome, where the number of assessments could be recorded, and success would be defined as these patients being able to go home whenever it is physically safe to do so.
- A SOW is created for the Supplier to partner with the Adult Safeguarding Team to review and make initial decisions regarding the need for a safeguarding enquiry, in line with statutory duties under section 42 of the Care Act. The SOW is based on the Supplier tackling an agreed quota of pre-reviewed concerns which have had initial research completed and considering if they meet the requirements of a safeguarding enquiry.
- To partner with the local authority’s Adult Mental Health service and carry out mental health act assessments on a number of patients. The supplier will adhere to the customer’s policies and general ways of working to ensure a consistent and unformed approach and delivery for the end user. Instructing the supplier to carry out a pre-agreed number of these assessments will alleviate pressure on the BAU team and allow them to maintain service level agreements and quality through both internal and outsourced activity.
Statement of Work used by a local authority – a real-life example
Following a period of change with the formation of two new councils within the area, it came to pass that there was the need for just over 500 adult care reviews, to be carried out in a 6 month period, in order to make sure that the needs of people with physical, mental health, cognitive, sensory and/or social needs in the region are being met. This far surpassed what they were able to carry out with their current, permanent staffing capabilities.
The local authority sought to contract a provider, via a Statement of Work, to secure professional expertise, lead project co-ordination and oversight, and onboard a team of experienced, qualified, and skilled labour for a period of up to 5 months to deliver the reviews for clients and unpaid carers. This figure was accurate at the time of the brief but may change over time and so an element of flexibility will be factored into proposals and time allowed to enable this if needed.
There were fixed milestones required and a clear and measurable end point in mind, which lent itself ideally to a Statement of Work format in order to meet the needs of people in residential homes, using daycare centers, and living within supported housing.
This is an excellent real-life example of how Statement of Work is used by local authorities where there are concerns that adult care needs are not being met in a timely manner or where demand exceeds their ability to supply. Not only does it mean that the work required is carried out in a timely and measurable manner, but there is greater document visibility and control, risks are minimised, and compliance is ensured.
Statement Of Work across local authorities
SOW is an approach used in other areas of health and social care, including children’s services in the community, IT system maintenance or implementation in hospitals, and planning applications for new facilities. In all these areas, there are many instances where there are projects with measurable outcomes where a Statement of Work can ensure that work stays both on time and on budget.
Comensura’s Client Solutions Director, Charles Austin states “Councils adapting and evolving to societal and political change, as well as the changing world of work, will implement change management and digitalisation projects. These are two areas where control and visibility are vital – and a SoW solution is ideal for both scenarios.”
Statement Of Work with c.net
Comensura uses their own propriety technology system to administer, interact and transact for all SOW projects. Our technology facilitates the completion of each stage, uploading of milestone reports, and evaluates whether financial and qualitative outcomes or other measures in place have been met prior to approval of any stage payments. It offers enhanced visibility, control and governance over your outsourced spend and ensures appropriate compliance and accountability is embedded in its usage.