During the 2022–23 financial year, the Department of Health and Social Care spent around £185 billion across the NHS, which is set to rise to just over £193 billion by the end of the current parliament. From this figure, over £26.9 billion was spent on adult health and social care by central government authorities, local councils and housing associations across the UK.
According to the latest census report, over 400,000 individuals live in residential or nursing homes across more than 17,000 care homes in the UK, with a further 814,000 service users receiving some form of care and support at home.
Alongside common question sets such as mobilisation, health and safety, quality assurance and social value, there are certain topics specific to health and social care which are mainstays in bid and tender writing. Outlined below are just a few examples of what you can expect when tendering for a health and social care contract.
Resourcing and retention
The health and social care industry is currently experiencing an immense skills shortage, with an estimated 152,000 vacant care positions, 28.3% turnover rate and 52% increase in staff vacancies during the 2022 calendar year. Coupled with increased demand due to the UK’s ageing population, authorities will want to know your methodology for not only recruiting suitably qualified and experienced staff, but also keeping retention levels and staff satisfaction high.
To effectively evidence how your resourcing and retention processes are effective, consider including the following details:
- How recruitment methods attract carers to vacancies, such as competitive pay rates at or above the relevant Living Wage threshold
- Creative methods for reaching potential candidates, including supplementing more typical online recruitment activities by in-person recruitment drives within service users’ communities
- Additional benefits and bonuses you are able to offer to drive staff satisfaction ratings and offer appealing job vacancies to attract suitable candidates
- Continuous professional development opportunities which allow you to identify and develop existing talent, providing a clear career pathway for current and potential employees.
High staff retention rates will also aid in ensuring carers develop a relationship and are familiar with the preferences and choices of service users, improving the overall quality of the service.
Delivering person-centred care
Another priority for central and local government authorities alike is the development and delivery of person-centred care and support. This involves ensuring the service user is treated with dignity, compassion and respect, in addition to providing a support package which is personalised, coordinated and enabling.
- How individuals are treated with dignity and respect – for example, delivering support in line with their personal preferences and beliefs, such as matching the service user with same-sex carers where relevant and appropriate.
- Supporting individuals to develop the skills and confidence to discuss and coordinate the direction of their support package in an informed and knowledgeable manner with their carer and support group.
- Approaching the service user’s health holistically – for instance, partnership working with social works and allied health professionals to plan and deliver effective support, taking into account all dimensions of the individual’s wellbeing.
Many organisations, such as The Health Foundation, have released guides on best practice and preferred approaches for delivering person-centred care, even under the tight budget constraints of the current climate.
Enablement and promoting independence
An important outcome for service users is creating a strengths-based service model, which ultimately enables them to retain independence and power over their own care needs. Strong service provision will be supported by the following initiatives:
- ‘Co-production’ or collaborating with the supported person to work with rather than for them, outlining achievable and evidence-based targets and outcomes based on their individual capabilities and strengths, and then working in an enabling, empowering way to facilitate achievement
- Producing personalised care plans by consulting individuals who are receiving care and their support group (e.g. close family) to understand and enable their desired outcomes
- Supporting access to age- and needs-appropriate events and activities in which service users wish to participate – for example, an elderly exercise class at a community centre, or supporting an individual to complete their weekly food shop
- Centring on the ‘lived experience’ of the service user by hearing and amplifying their voice to ensure they play a sustained role in the development of their personalised care plans.
Enabling service users to achieve desired outcomes and supporting their independence ultimately results in a positive carer–service user relationship, increased autonomy and a sense of belonging.
Working with communities
Lastly, health and social care tenders often focus on how you will draw in support from the wider community to ensure service users feel supported and engaged with their communities while receiving the care and support they require. To achieve this, a response should include the following as a minimum:
- Demonstrating how you will understand the specific needs of individuals and service users, such as engaging with the user’s local faith centre so they can continue to observe their cultural and religious beliefs
- How you will engage with communities, for instance, how you would facilitate conversations around mental health within communities who may have existing stigmas around the topic
- Proposed partnership arrangements to facilitate high-quality and comprehensive service provision, including how you propose to build links with NHS services, voluntary organisations and third sector service providers.
Partnership and guidance from service users’ communities is a tenet of the Health and Care Act 2022, with 10 principles for working with people and communities informing care providers’ positions.
During our 14 years supporting clients with SQ, PQQ and ITT submissions, we have written thousands of persuasive, high-quality tenders for the health and social care sector, including for extra care, domiciliary care and supported living opportunities. If you would like to know more about how our bid and tender services can support you with government tenders, our sales and marketing team are available for a chat or a bespoke, no-obligation quote via email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0800 612 5563.
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