A trust in Devon has become the first NHS provider to enter the home care market, potentially allowing it greater control of standards for patients and staff.
Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has successfully launched Devon Cares to cover the northern and mid parts of the county.
“As far as we know we are the first NHS trust to enter the home care market”
The service, launched on 18 July, does not deliver care directly, but works with a network of existing providers to organise and manage care.
It encourages providers to work collaboratively with each other and with the NHS to solve quality and capacity issues, said the trust.
It described the service as a “completely new approach to home care” that brings together care providers and gives them the backing of the NHS.
As previously reported by Nursing Times, the local council announced the decision to appoint the trust as prime contractor for home care in northern and mid Devon in March, under its Living Well at Home contract.
Through the contract, care workers and other staff will benefit from improved working conditions, as well as more opportunities to develop their skills through training and a clearer career path, said the trust.
In addition, it said the new service would allow it to influence the quality of the increasing amount of care given outside of its hospitals and to ensure care providers were working to support patients’ ability to live independently in their own homes.
NHS trust pioneers new home care service
Andy Ibbs, director of strategy and transformation for Northern Devon Healthcare, said: “We are really excited to be working with local domiciliary care providers to continue to improve home care across northern and mid Devon. As far as we know we are the first NHS trust to enter the home care market.
“We believe working with care providers will allow more joined-up care between home and hospital,” he said. “It will also allow us to address many of the care capacity problems and blockages facing the wider health system in Devon.”
The trust hopes that being part of Devon Cares will boost recruitment and retention in the local home care market and give providers greater certainty, so they can plan for the future.
Mr Ibbs added: “This is a completely new approach to domiciliary care that we hope will bring real benefits to people in Northern and Mid Devon.”
Devon Cares, along with its network of providers, will manage domiciliary care in the following areas:
- Zone 1: Bideford, Northam, Great Torrington and Holsworthy
- Zone 2: Ilfracombe, Lynton, Lynmouth, Barnstaple and South Molton
- Zone 3: Tiverton, Crediton and Cullompton
The new service is part of a successful bid to Devon County Council, NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group and South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group for a new Living Well at Home contract.
Stuart Barker, the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for adult social care, said on behalf of the three commissioning authorities, said: “Our new contracts are an important step in helping to improve the quality and supply of personal care services, and to bring greater pride in the sector.
“Care workers do a really important job for the people of Devon and we are investing more into these contracts to ensure that they will be paid for all the hours they work, including travelling time, and that they receive at least the national living wage,” he said.
He added: “It will also encourage support and training for staff to ensure a good supply of quality care services for the future. These improvements extend to care workers employed under contract to Devon Cares.”