Calling all innovators! The closing deadline for the Domiciliary Care Workforce Challenge is looming, but there is still time to get your application in.

The West of England AHSN, South West AHSN and Health Education England South West, are seeking innovative solutions to improve the capacity, capability and wellbeing of the domiciliary care workforce, with up to £100,000 available to support pilots in the region.

Domiciliary care is a vital resource that is under huge pressure in the UK, with domiciliary social care providers reporting a pre-pandemic 46% staff turnover rate in the South West. The pressures have only been accentuated further by COVID-19.

Alison Burnett, React Clinician, Sirona Health & Care, explains some of the issues she has experienced:

“The issues in domiciliary care are very complex and far ranging.

“For 25 years I worked as a rapid response community nurse – providing care to patients within their own home. It’s a really hard job – it’s emotionally demanding and there are huge times pressures on the worker. It’s not a well-paid profession, but it is one that we could not be without.

“I now work in a hospital-based role, trying to establish and facilitate domiciliary care services at the point of triage. The issues on this side of the fence are altogether different – trying to acquire information about a patient’s situation at home and whether they are already receiving in-home care services and, if so, by whom, is extremely challenging. Just trying to get through to a patient’s GP is as difficult for healthcare professionals as it is for the public, and the tools and tech used by NHS nurses differs completely to those used by community nurses.  There is a huge gap to bridge between hospital and community healthcare services in terms of communication and information sharing and, for me, this is an area that really needs innovation.”

Roger McDermott, Senior Programme Manager, West of England AHSN, adds:

“Being involved in this challenge has taught me a lot about the issues facing this sector: from 25-minute appointments, unpaid travel time and issues communicating with base, to the challenge of not knowing what you might be facing that day, and generally being on the back foot from the first appointment, being a domiciliary care worker is tough.

“On top of all this, social care providers compete for individual contracts on price, which puts further pressure on resources to develop and retain staff. There are also many differences between the challenges faced by the social care workforce and the NHS workforce, such as the frustration of clinicians having to return to multiple bases so they can write up hand written notes, rather than focus more time on the patient.

“All of these issues do, however, mean that there are huge opportunities for improvement. Are there innovative approaches we can adopt to improve staff wellbeing or development? How might we increase diversity and inclusion in the workforce? Are there solutions we can adopt to support leadership, management, administration and the back office? And a key opportunity for improvement has to be around how we can improve communication and collaboration between the NHS and social care.”

The Domiciliary Care Workforce Challenge invites innovators from any background – be it health and social care, the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector, or industry – to apply. Their already proven solution could be a product, service, technology, process, way of working or toolkit, which will have a positive and measurable impact on workforce indicators such as: number of domiciliary care workers, satisfaction levels, sickness absence, turnover, wellbeing, productivity, skills and confidence, leadership or diversity and inclusion.

The successful innovation(s) will be ready for adoption/adaptation and spread across the West and South West of England (from Gloucestershire and Wiltshire to Cornwall). Innovators will receive support from the two AHSNs in finding an organisation to host the trial, with the opportunity to work with a project manager and gather real world evidence. [Please note, if applicants already have live solutions in use in the South West, it may be possible to evaluate them in situ.]

Depending on the results of the pilots, there is also potential support for regional and national scale up via the AHSN Network.

The call for innovation closes at 5:00pm on Monday 31 May 2021. For further information and to submit your innovation, click here.

Please note that two further ‘drop-in’ Q&A sessions will be taking place before applications close:

Monday 17 May, 11.30am -12.00pm: Click here to join the meeting

Monday 24 May, 11.30am -12.00pm: Click here to join the meeting

If you are interested in becoming a host organisation to trial a solution, you can also register your interest now.

Posted on May 17, 2021

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