Daily, we see public sector tenders released by local authorities and NHS Trusts and ICBs for services of varying complexity, duration and financial value across the UK. These tenders are there mostly to enable the buyer to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable in society, and where possible alleviate the ever-growing pressures on the NHS by enabling individuals to remain independent as long as possible.
On this basis, it is therefore not surprising that social care (particularly where personal care is required) is a highly regulated industry, with organisations required to register with organisations such as CQC or the Care Inspectorate, or potentially with regulators such as OFSTED depending on the services they offer. It is also not surprising that social care tenders are becoming increasingly competitive as new organisations spring to life, and larger organisations seek to maintain their current service provision, whilst continuing to grow their portfolio through diversification of services, or movement into new geographic areas. Targeted and proportionate bidding based on your organisation’s skills, experience and capabilities is therefore imperative to increase success, as explained below.
Bid for services you can deliver
This is a message we impart universally to all our clients, but within such a competitive environment it is something worth reiterating. We always advise clients take the time to read and understand the tender requirements fully, but as a minimum would recommend reviewing:
- Minimum criteria – always verify that you meet minimum criteria such as financial thresholds (e.g. turnover), levels of insurance, previous experience and references.
- Service requirements – we regularly have clients approach us asking for a quotation to bid for a tender opportunity, and it is only when they get to the interview stage with one of our bid writers that they realise the service is not what they thought. Before investing time, money and resource into tender preparation, make sure you know what you are bidding for.
- Registrations and accreditations that you must have in place, for example CQC / OFSTED (England), Care Inspectorate (Scotland), CSSIW (Wales) and Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (Northern Ireland). The buyer may also require you to have additional accreditations (at their discretion) such as ISO 9001.
- Contract value and pricing documents – this can give a clear indication as to whether you have the capabilities and resource to deliver services, or, if the financial model is attractive. For example, for direct purchasing agreements or frameworks, it is not uncommon for hourly rates to be fixed so be sure to check this can cover staff wages and overheads before bidding.
Understand the service and the buyer
For social care services such as domiciliary care, supported living, extra care, and supported accommodation, it is essential that you are able to reflect the service requirements, and reassure the buyer that you can deliver the service within your quality responses. To do this, your responses should be specific to the location and services you are bidding for. For example, if you are tendering for an extra care scheme in Bath your response should communicate understanding of tenants’ needs, reference local partnership working arrangements, and explain why your approach is right for the scheme. Language used should convey the caring and quality-driven processes you will establish, underpinned by an understanding of CQC guidelines and social care requirements (e.g. safeguarding compliance).
Explained fully in our recent blog, evidencing an understanding of the buyer can also enhance the overall quality of your submission and help increase your overall score. For example, when responding to a tender question regarding safeguarding, an understanding of local safeguarding procedures/teams and local safeguarding issues (e.g. scam salesmen or cuckooing) can help add a further layer of legitimacy to your tender.
Demonstrate compliance and innovation
When tendering for health and social care services, you need to remember that most of your competitors are likely claiming similar things and have similar systems/processes. It is no longer enough to claim that your move to a digital care management system has enhanced efficiencies, as this has become standard practice, and often a prerequisite for authorities. Instead, and within the remit of the tender question, you need to evidence and explain your unique selling points and the value this will bring to the buyer.
Our team of health and social care bid writers have completed winning bids for all 32 London borough councils, all 27 county councils, and almost every borough or city council in the UK. We have helped newly registered providers access frameworks for the first time and have supported some of the largest care companies and charities to submit winning bids. To find out how we can support you with your health and social care tenders or if you require help with bid and tender writing in any other industry, contact our team today free on 0800 612 5563 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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