Agincare in print: Care Management Matters

Published: Monday 4th November 2019

We’re always delighted when members of the Agincare team are invited to contribute their thoughts and articles to industry and professional magazines.

Our CEO, Raina Summerson, has written a piece for Care Management Matters on how independent care providers can get more involved in strategic discussions on ‘Whole system approaches’ in health and social care.

Raina Summerson, Chief Executive Officer

Though it may sound like another example of public sector jargon, a ‘whole system’ approach is simply about identifying the various parts of a system and evaluating the links and relationships between each of them. In this case it’s the social care and health ‘system’.

Agincare: at the heart of discussions

With more than 3,500 staff, Agincare is one of the largest independent providers of care across the UK in three main areas: domiciliary care (home care), live-in care and care homes. So it’s no surprise that it’s important to us to be at the heart of discussions on ‘whole system’ approaches (involving the NHS, councils and care providers) to health and social care planning.

Home care jobs - washing up

We’ve been engaging in national discussions on health and social care for many years, often working with the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) to make sure the providers’ viewpoint is heard and appreciated.

And although there’s still some way to go, and many independent providers still struggle to take a central role in conversations, Raina argues that it’s a challenge worth taking on. She shares her ideas on how independent providers can make sure they’re in a position to influence approaches in the future.

The Dorset perspective

In her article, Raina talks about the situation in Dorset, home to Agincare’s head office, and her experiences of working with local public sector partners, including Dorset’s Integrated Care System (ICS).

Traditionally in Dorset, as across the country, social care has been predominantly the remit of a local council’s social services department. However, Dorset has an ageing population, with a proportion of people aged 65+ far above the national average*.

Many people come to Dorset to enjoy a long retirement, and people are living longer. And so demand for social care continues to rise. So it’s no surprise that independent providers are critically important to social care provision across the county, especially as local authorities are able to actually deliver less and less care themselves.

Care home jobs - care assistant with client

However, getting a seat at the table to engage in discussions about integrated care hasn’t been straightforward. Raina explains how, after many months of negotiations, there is now a plan for a recognised strategic provider group in Dorset, which will include independent sector representatives.

Meet the challenges and get your voice heard

Raina sets out her key recommendations for independent providers looking to increase their engagement and get their voices heard. Points include:

  • Think big and think realistically; providers won’t be asked round the table for strategic debate if they simply bring a micro view. You need to be prepared to speak on behalf of the sector, not just your own position
  • Be prepared to put in the work if you want to be directly involved
  • See all interaction as a potential for learning

Raina concludes that: “We can only hope that with an increasing number of integrated services and with more interaction through strategic groups, the independent sector will become both more confident in its approach and more accepted by the public services it forms such a critical part of.”

Read the complete Care Management Matters article.

*According to the Office for National Statistics, 28.6% of the people living in the Dorset Council area and 21.5% in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are aged 65+. The national average is 18.3%.