The Domiciliary Care Workforce programme, run in partnership with Health Innovation South West and Health Education England, is using innovation to ease the pressure on domiciliary care workers and providers.

Domiciliary care is provided at a local level through a range of contracts delivered by multiple providers, with the pressure on workers impacting on their work, wellbeing and development and contributing to high turnover rates.

We selected a planning and optimisation service from Finnish company Procomp, which was trialled in Bristol and Cornwall between March 2022 and May 2023. The service aims to increase the capacity of the workforce and improve the working lives of care workers by using AI logistics technology to improve the planning of care workers’ schedules.

“If we could find ways to reduce travel time and mileage, and change working practices so that demand for domiciliary social care was spread through the day, it would allow staff more paid caring time, increase the capacity of the current workforce and help us provide more care. That would be great, both for local authorities and care staff and may also help to tackle staff turnover. The whole package could be a game-changer.” Bristol City Council

The situation in domiciliary care

Around 590,000 people work in this field (source: Skills for care) delivering 1.5 million home care visits per day (source: Homecare Association). Care work is organised at local authority level with a range of models to commission providers. Once providers have contracts in place, they rely on a variety of tools, including human judgement, spreadsheets and, in some cases, tech solutions, to plan rounds. The result is an average mileage between visits of 4.3 miles (source: Homecare Association) and insufficient time allowed for travel in the care workers schedules.With multiple providers often operating across the same area it is not uncommon to have care delivered by multiple providers on one street. The challenges of the job, working patterns with often unpaid breaks, and generally low pay, lead to high turnover rates. Even before the pandemic, domiciliary social care providers were reporting a 38% staff turnover rate in the South West (source: Skills for Care).

The innovation being trialled

Following a nationwide call to identify innovations, we received a high number of quality applications, including solutions for communication, rostering, care management, wellbeing, training, and remote care. From these, through a competitive process including a Dragon’s Den style pitch to an expert panel, Procomp’s strategic optimisation service was selected.

Procomp is a Finnish company with a background in logistics planning and optimisation. The company works with a third of the Finnish domiciliary care market. They use their AI-based logistics solution (R2 Optimisation), tailored to domiciliary care to optimise planning, reduce mileage, improve carer utilisation. They have shown positive results in Finland and Benelux countries, reducing care worker mileage by up to 40% and improving care worker utilisation by more than 25% with no reduction in care for service users. Procomp offer two services: strategic optimisation (for local authorities) and operational planning (for domiciliary care providers). Procomp applied for us to evaluate their strategic optimisation service which is expected to support improvements to the commissioning model, care planning approach and brokerage arrangements.

The pilot sites and evaluation

Once the Procomp service had been chosen, we put out a call for local authorities to host a pilot. The project will fund the Procomp services and software for a 12-month period and will also fund an independent evaluation of the effectiveness, impact and benefits. Two areas were selected on the basis of their contrasting geographies (rural and urban), the quality of data they hold and their different working practices, which will provide valuable real-world feedback on the use of the strategic optimisation service.

The evaluation will be led by Health Innovation West of England working with Unity Insights.

Communication and reports

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