Nobody knows your company like you do. But nobody knows the tendering process like Executive Compass. In our latest blog post we take a look at Bid Writer Elliott's recent visits to health and social care clients, to improve our knowledge and understanding of the sector.
I’ve worked for several years at Executive Compass, and my bid writer experience has already covered a broad range of sectors. Most notably, I have written around 60 tenders in health and social care alone. Despite this, there’s no substitute for operational experience in any area of work. In the interests of continuous improvement, it was agreed that I would go on a series of visits to different clients in the health and social care sector.
Care plans, person-centred support and care delivery
When you visit an organisation, you see so much: how comprehensive the care plans are, the way the staff interact, the practical application of ‘person-centred’ support, and the general feel of the organisation. Our usual approach to interviewing clients is via telephone call, where we prompt the client to guide our conversations and provide the information we need to construct responses. This is complemented by emails which let us refine what we write for the bids, and ensure they meet customer (and authority) requirements. While this has led to great success, being face-to-face with clients lets conversations develop a more natural and flowing route. The train-of-thought approach not only let the clients I visited demonstrate their extensive knowledge, but also gave me a far more well-rounded understanding of care delivery in practice. For example, level of detail in the care plans was considerably larger than what I had first imagined, holding information from GPs, social workers, and previous care plans. The extent was such that a family member of the service user stated of the file, that ‘isn’t just a folder for someone with his condition; that is him. Everything about him is in that plan.’
The visits also showed me how service users themselves are treated as individuals. An accurate description of person-centred delivery can be difficult to capture in tender responses without appearing cold, clinical, or ‘cookie cutter’. Seeing it in practice showed just how personalised person-centred care can (and should) be, with each detail considered to ensure the service user feels valued, and fully supported in their care.
Safeguarding in practice
For one of my visits, I had the privilege of visiting a care home. What became immediately apparent was the focus on security. When I arrived, I was politely asked to identify myself (the staff member was aware of my visit), provide proof of identification, and record my details in the access register. Arguably, this was the first line of defence in safeguarding; but it felt authoritative without being intimidating. While I have written about safeguarding many times, seeing it in action let me see for myself how it is interwoven into all aspects of care delivery. I can say the same for the sense of community: photographs and other personal items, such as trinkets, ornaments, and, in one case, a guitar, were evident all around, reinforcing the fact that this is the residents’ home. Talking with residents only reaffirmed that they felt comfortable and confident in their environment, and were more than happy to talk about the wealth of activities they are involved in at the home, and through external partners.
The residents themselves were treated with utmost respect, with care workers always being near, yet allowing them enough space to go about their usual routine. This is the ‘just enough’ approach to care I had written about; service users flourished on it, as care workers were not seen as intrusive.
Understanding health and social care
The value of the face-to-face visit should not be understated. My visit enhanced my understanding of health and social care, as well as of the individual companies I visited. Seeing several clients helped me to identify the differences in the way each organisation worked, seeing where they had adopted an innovative approach to service. It can be difficult in a telephone call to capture what innovation actually means. Some organisations might not realise that what they do counts as innovative: they see it as standard. However, by seeing it in person, we can help companies identify where what they do is different, and better than current best practice. It is details like this that can make the difference between a high-scoring tender, and an award-winning one.
In the days after my visits, I wrote up a report for my colleagues and we discussed it, allowing us all to benefit from the experience. Our knowledge across the organisation has been enhanced, giving us an even more robust understanding of the sector. We are introducing this same process in other sectors so keep an eye out for further blog posts.
Nobody knows your company like you do. But nobody knows the tender writing process like Executive Compass. By combining the expertise of you and your team with the bid writing knowledge of our staff, we will help to guide you through the procurement process, and ensure you win contracts.