Care Provider: Category Development System has created a fairer process

Recently, we spoke with J-Care Support Services, based in Aberdare, Wales, about how they provide home support to local people within the Cardiff area, how the home support marketplace has changed over the last few years and how the process for providing personalised, quality support has changed since Cardiff City Council implemented adam's category development system.

Can you please explain what type of care services J-Care Support provides?

Samantha: Domiciliary care - anyone from the age of 18 until they pass. We work with generally older people, but we do cover all of it – mental health, substance misuse. We do work with learning disabilities, but you normally find, if you look into the requirements, if it’s a specialist learning disabilities, then there are obviously companies out there who just cater for those requirements.

How many people do you provide services to a week?

Samantha: 11 in Cardiff, and they range from one call a day to four calls a day.

In terms of people’s needs, have you seen a change in the last few years regarding what people need and the level of personalisation they need from services?

Samantha: Yes, more people are now obviously staying at home; whereas a few years ago, you could quite happily put yourself into a care home, now you can’t. I think that’s because you’ve got to reach a certain level to go into a care home now, whereas before you didn’t. So more people tend to stay at home, some through choice and some not. I think a lot of it does come down to money. We’re seeing more people come through for home care services.

Do you just work with the Council or do you supply services to direct-payment/ self-funders as well?

Samantha: We have got some private clients in Cardiff. We haven’t got any direct payments at the moment through Cardiff.

How do people find you in the first place? Do they contact the council and come through to you or do they come direct?

Samantha: The private ones we have now, we have because we’re caring for their husband, wife or partner. But some people do come through the Council.


 "adam’s category development system made it much fairer for us against the bigger companies."


Do you work with other local authorities?

Samantha: We work with other councils as well. They currently email us every day with any packages that they need to fill.

Kelly: You don’t get any questions or information from them; you just get the where the person is, their postcode, how many calls they want and how many hours the package is. So there aren’t any personalised requirements from them. 

What did the process look like for you before the category development system?

Samantha: We’d go to a meeting once a week; the doors opened at two o’clock; whoever was there first, went in first; and basically, you could be third or fourth in line and the companies in front of you could have gone in and taken everything off the board.

Kelly: If the bigger companies went in before you, there might only be fifteen packages, and they’d take them all only to hand them back the following day, when they realised they couldn’t fill them. There were low-levels of personalisation because of the limited amount of companies who were taking the packages.

What are the main benefits for you of using adam’s platform?

Kelly: adam’s category development system made it much fairer for us against the bigger companies because, being a smaller company, by the time we were going to those meetings, there might not have been any packages left or if there were, they might have been learning difficulties, which we don’t tend to take. It’s a much fairer playing field because you’re just bidding for the packages and it’s open to everyone. Obviously you get your deadline, but as long as you’ve put in your bid by that time, you’ve got the same chance as everyone else. So we do find that aspect much better. We’ve been able to take on a lot of packages since the category development system has been up and running. 

It’s easier to do invoicing as well, as you’ve got all your figures there on the screen. There are some parts, like with Bank Holidays, it doesn’t allow you to change, and you have to ring and ask, ‘is this double time’, etc. but it does make it a lot easier in a way because you haven’t got all the paperwork to send out every month. Now it goes through automatically.

What can you see the main benefits being to other providers?

Kelly: If they are smaller companies, like ourselves, I would think they’d see the same benefits as us, with it being a more level playing field.


How is Cardiff monitoring the packages? Do they come round regularly?

Kelly: We engage with the Social Workers initially anyway, and if there are no issues within six weeks, the Service User goes back into a ‘pool’ then. But if there are any issues, you just speak to the Social Services Department rather than an individual person. But we have reviews once a year. The Social Workers contact us and we arrange a meeting and we both go through the package. We do give a lot of information back. If we have any issues, we go straight back to Social Services. We don’t wait; we go back at any point with the issues we have.

Do you think the funding will be an ongoing issue?

Kelly: Yes, with the economy at the moment, and obviously, people are living longer as well.

What about personalisation of care – do you find it easier to meet people’s specific service requirements through using the adam platform? If not, why not?

Samantha: I think the information we’re given through the category development system is enough to be able to decide whether or not you can provide care for that package. I’ve never had a package where it’s been more complex that what it actually said on the system.

Do a lot of people who come to you realise they need care themselves? Are they coming to the conclusion they need extra support themselves?

Kelly: It’s difficult, as a lot of our clients have dementia, so they don’t always understand they have a carer. It’s when then families get to a stage where they realise they need help and can’t do it all on their own.

Are the needs becoming more complex, with people living longer, as well, or do you think it’s the same, it’s just there’s more of them?

Kelly: Yes, I think it’s that there’s more of them. For one council, we haven’t got a Service User that’s under 90. They’re all quite independent and self-sufficient. Whereas, in Cardiff, we’ve got someone in their 60s who’s bedridden, so you can’t categorise it by an age group; it’s not all one age group, so they must have this, this and this problem. It’s just that there are more people out there now, living longer, and obviously there is a level of care needs there.